Deuteronomy 29:5 on Aging

I am not afraid of dying
But I am afraid of declining.
Forgetting a name or a word,
Waking up stiff with aches and pains,
Having to walk because I cannot run.
Not being able to do what I always could do,
Feeling betrayed by my body’s decline.

Then one Shabbat morning
As the Torah was being read
I heard these words from Deuteronomy 29
For 40 years in the wilderness
your clothes did not wear out,
nor did your shoes wear out and fall off your feet

How could that be?
Everything decays and wears out.
Everyone declines, deteriorates and becomes decrepit.

Then suddenly I understood the Torah’s teaching.
Old age isn’t a one way street.
You can change from hiking briskly in the mountains
To walking slowly in the valley,
Looking at birds, flowers and trees.

You can still appreciate seeing and hearing
Even if not so sharply anymore.
You can still do a lot
If you do it unhurriedly.

If you understand the Torah’s teaching
You can spend even 40 years
In the wilderness of decline
Without wearing yourself out,
And falling off your feet.

Resource Types: Practice, Prayers, and Readings.

Review & Commentary

  • Dudley Gilmer

    Although Rabbi Mailer’s interpretation of Deut. 29:5 seems like a stretch to me, I love it. The truth of what he says about aging is compelling to an oldie like myself. I am copying it for my fridge!