Kenneth Cohen

Why We Age

The Gemara in Baba Metzia tells how Yakov Avinu asked to become weaker in order to prepare his family for his death. Until Yakov, people did not really get sick before they passed away.

Yakov understood how difficult it would be to have to say good-by to his loved ones. He wanted to lighten the blow, so that his family would be prepared for the inevitable.

Rav Avigdor Miller wrote that the aging process existed for this purpose. It is a much slower progression where we see grey hairs appear, the need for reading glasses, muscle pulls, etc. All of this, is to remind ourselves and our families, that our stay on earth is not forever.

Aside from being a preparation for our ultimate demise, it should also serve as a wake up call. We must appreciate how precious time really is. It is our responsibility to use our time wisely and productively. It is a sin to waste time.

There is so much that we all have to give, once this becomes a priority. We certainly gain great satisfaction through the study of Torah. When this study translates into action and good deeds, it is a sign that we are making the most of life.

Yakov Avinu was not only concerned that his parting should not be too difficult. He also wanted to make use of every breath we have, during our stay on earth.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at