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Updated: Feb 26, 2020

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According to the midrash, Avraham asked Hashem for grey hair.[1] Before this, there were no visible signs of his aging. Hashem agreed, and allowed Avraham to be the first person to age.[2]

Can you imagine someone in today’s generation actually asking to age? Our entire culture revolves around fighting the aging process. Many people go to great lengths to hide their age.

Why on earth would Avraham ask to age?

Aside from the practical reasons of not confusing parents with their children, he wanted us to understand that there is a distinct beauty in older age. Avraham was actually called beautiful in the Torah after he aged. He wanted to show the world that age is like a crown to wear, and to be proud of.

There is a famous saying; “learn from the past, live in the present, and work toward the future”. As we age, it important that we are proud of our past – not necessarily because we acted perfectly, but because we can see growth from it. The ability to look back at a life of growth is a much greater gift than perfection.

Not only did Hashem give Avraham the gift of looking old, but Yitzchak was the first to look young. Before Yitzchak, people were born mature looking. They did not look like cute little babies. Imagine waking up numerous times in the middle of the night to an adult crying to be fed or changed. We might not have much patience for them at all. It’s such a bracha (blessing) that babies are cute and vulnerable.

This idea highlights the importance of creating a healthy family structure. It is critical for normal child development to view the parent as a figure of authority, someone who has life experiences, someone who has overcome challenges, and someone who can guide them through life.

Parents and children should never be confused with each other. Parents should behave like parents, and children should be nurtured and taken care of. Role reversals are detrimental to normal child development.

The gift of visual separation helps to define these roles, and helps to define a healthy and beautiful family structure.

Inspired by Rav Shimshon David Pinkus in his sefer Tiferet Shimson & the Lekach Tov

[1] Bereshit Rabbah 65

[2] Bava Metzia 87a

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