Rabbi Shmuley reflects on the lessons learned when he turns 55.

I know no one is supposed to admit their own age, but next week in New York City I will celebrate my 55th birthday, God willing.

To give it more substance, at the same party, next Tuesday, I will be launching my book. I hate kosher in a dialogue with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.

The famous American writer and author of Fear to fly, Erica Jong, wrote a “middle-aged memory” called Scared at fifty. Unsurprisingly, it talks about how Americans have a crazy fear of getting old. Youth is glorified. Age is treated as a miserable disease.

Perhaps we should consider the alternative. To grow old is to live. Not to grow old is to purify oneself of the greatest blessing of all, life.

And to grow old is to acquire wisdom.

Happy birthday (credit: PIXABAY)

And what have I learned in my half century and five years on this earth, which have passed in the blink of an eye? What are the 10 most important things I have learned?

The first is that sins of omission are much greater than sins of commission.

There is no doubt that I regret the bad things I have done. But much worse are the good things that I have not done.

Relationships, for example, are sometimes undone by sin in the relationship. But far more often, relationships die from the sin of neglect. I have seen many husbands and wives recover from mistakes. But I have seen many more people slowly lose their vitality and passion for life because they lack purpose.

I also learned that real character does not come from the amount in our bank accounts, but from the quality of our relationships. Sounds simple, I know. But it’s a no-brainer that we trample every day.

Our society uses money as a commodity to buy self-esteem. The net result is that men and women spend their lives hoarding. But the biggest problem in the world today, and the one first identified in the Bible, is loneliness. All the money and status in the world will not make you feel appreciated as much for who you are as for what you possess. You only get over loneliness when you are in a relationship where you are unconditionally loved and appreciated.

The third thing I have learned is to confer dignity on everyone you meet. Try to make others feel important. Easier said than done, but surprisingly rewarding. God gave each of us an infinite supply of dignity that we can spread over others, like confetti thrown on the bride and groom at their wedding. By just being attentive to people, valuing their opinion, expressing gratitude, we make others feel important. Most of what we do in life is an attempt to make ourselves feel important. So if you crave it that much, give that same gift to others as well. Give compliments. They are free. So why be stingy? Make it sincere. Everyone has something to praise. Find it and offer it.

Next, you should never fear. That does not mean that we should live carelessly. But there is a difference between living in fear and living with caution. While fear is a hysterical response to an imaginary threat, caution is simply a calculated reaction to real danger. But get rid of fear.

Also, learn to forgive.

This lesson is possibly the most difficult of all. We all feel wronged by others, and forgiveness is the most unnatural act of all. Why overlook the harm people do us, especially if they have not yet taken responsibility for what they have done? Because caring for grudges makes us old before our time, even if we are much under the age of 55.

As a parent, your job is to make your children always feel valued. It is not to take them to Harvard. It is not to inspire you to launch a new Internet business. Stop thinking that your goal as a parent is to make your child “successful.”

I have seen so many children, successful on paper, who are still empty inside because they were never made to feel unconditionally loved.

A parent’s job is to validate their children not through their actions, but through their being. I love you because you are. There is nothing you can do to make me love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make me love you less.

And at 55, I have validated a choice I made a long time ago: to live for the Jewish people. The message is live for your nation, live for your country, live for your people. Live for a cause bigger than yourself. Only when we connect with something eternal is our being given a sense of infinity.

I mention the Jewish people not only because I am Jewish, but because my people have been in danger throughout their existence. Israel’s very survival is threatened to this day by the genocidal enemies that surround it.

As we fight to defend Israel, we connect with millennia of our compatriots who have gone before us and who have made the Jewish people one of the most influential in history.

The same is true of the fight for America and all that it stands for: liberty, liberty, human rights, and a commitment to the infinite and equal worth of each person.

Read the story and find out what came before you. It sounds unexpected, but I can tell you that my love of history has put my existence, my daily trials, my constant challenges in perspective. It gives me an idea of ​​what human beings can ultimately contribute.

Honor your parents. Appreciate your spouse. Another really difficult one. The people who give us the most love in life are often the ones who can give us the most pain. It is almost inevitable in the relationship between parents and children and in the association between husband and wife that love and pain exist at the same time. But nothing tests our ability to appreciate and give gratitude more than truly loving and respecting our parents and the partner with whom we share our lives. And nothing guarantees God’s blessing more than appreciating and showing loving gratitude to our soulmates.

Finally, the biggest lesson of all. I learned that we must love God and serve him. This can come to you in different ways, be it through a formal religion or something more lived. But bring God into your life. Know that every day is a miracle. Stop sweating over the little things and accept that there is a bigger plan. Find your place in that plan. And throughout life never lose your sense of wonder, majesty and wonder.

The writer has just completed I hate kosher, which will be released on November 16. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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