How Old Are You?

November 9, 2012 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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The Talmud relates that the great sage Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria was asked to assume the leadership of the Sanhedrin – The Jewish Supreme Court. Although he was fully qualified and had all the necessary credentials, he was reluctant to accept, as he was only eighteen at the time..writes Rabbi Michoel Gourarie.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

With Divine intervention, overnight he miraculously developed features of an older person and began to look like he was seventy years of age.

The mystics explain that this transformation was not only external or superficial but rather a reflection of his true inner spiritual age.  Rabbi Elazar’s soul had been here before. He was a reincarnation of the great prophet Samuel who passed away at the young age of fifty two.  His eighteen years combined with Samuel’s fifty-two made him seventy.

There is a powerful message in this story. When we are faced with important responsibilities, encounter new challenges, or are asked to show leadership and inspire others we often lack confidence and believe we do not have what it takes to achieve and grow. But the sources teach us that all our souls have been here before. Our lack of experience and very limited personality are not a true reflection of our abilities.  We carry the inspiration and positive energy of those that came before us. We might be small but we are like midgets that sit on the shoulders of giants. We are able to operate with the strength, inspiration and energy of all those that carried our souls in previous generations.

Our passport age is great for proof of identity when applying for a home loan, but when assessing our potential to achieve greatness, we should remember our true age.


3 Responses to “How Old Are You?”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    I beg to differ slightly. It may not be entirely kosher, but the Romans used to say “Barba not facit filosofum”, the beard does not make one a philosopher.

    I know a few young people with the common sense and wisdom that place them well above some seventy year olds.

    At – fortunate times ! – youth carries hope, energy, humbleness and the desire to prove one’s worth and acceptance by the community for their genuine qualities. Education of the most complex type, familial and academic contribute to the worth a dedicated individual .
    BUT that is ONLY if the individual knows as early as childhood the distinction between character development of the finest type and years wasted playing footy , on the beach, at never ending parties, the joys of drinkin’, smokin’, macho bravado in and out of pubs, adorning one’s figure with tatts, boys AND girls, not resting one’s eyes on a single book, “acquiring” the pride of unbelievable ignorance, dolling up, latest fashion, latest car, Mum’ and Dad’ credit cards at their disposal, gap yearS of trotting uselessly the globe, some “academy” in Israel for one full year and coming back with – luckily – five words in Ivrit etc.

    At – unfortunate !! – times, old age is accompanied by the arrogance of conceit, the vanity that comes about with one’s accolades for former glory, a sense of greater importance and anxiety to show that certain others are bellow one’s – “acquired “- station. A sense of false, entitlement combined with the dismissive attitude to those who would not have chalked the said “accalim”.
    Old age must carry the clear clarification : modesty, consideration of all others, endowed with genuinely useful values.

    Somenone, please tell me to stop !

    ( see the ensuing list !!! )

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    A great spiritual contribution I shall share, compatable with some beliefs, not readily accepted by others.

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