One of my favorite lines that we sing in synagogue comes at the end of psalm 92, the Shabbat Psalm. It says:
The righteous flourish like the palm trees, like cedars of Lebanon they grow.
Planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of our God they flourish.
They bear fruit still in old age, fresh and full of sap they are, to tell that the Lord is upright, my rock, there is no wrong in God.
Why do I love this so much? Because it tells us that no matter how old we are, we still have the ability to contribute, to be part of a living community of friends and family.
In this week’s Torah portion, the now elderly Abraham rose to the occasion in ways we never saw before. After the Akedah on Mt. Moriah, he never spoke to God again.
Instead, he stepped forth as a full person, mourning his wife, ensuring that she received a proper burial, and then ensuring that his son’s future was guaranteed by finding Rebecca to be his wife.
With God no longer guiding him, did he finally learn how to live his life on his own?
It must have been lonely. For so many years, he had had God by his side, advising, guiding, encouraging. Without the Divine voice in his ear, he found his own voice, and he set out to care for the needs of the two people closest to him. He sought closure, both for himself and those whom he loved.
There is a sweet children’s song by Elana Jagoda called “Good Job God.” In the song, God creates animals, mountains, rivers and streams, and at the end of every verse, she sings, “good job God, I like those things too.”
I was listening to the song last night and I thought, Good job Abraham, you created something too. You created a whole person in yourself. And in so doing, you created hope in all of us who, as we age, can lose hope in our ability to create, to make change, to make a difference in this world.
Like you, we can decide to not let our age define us. We can be part of a living, growing, changing community, and we can — we must — remember that we also to have something important to give.
May we be so blessed.