Remember Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth

Posted: November 13, 2015 in Midrash, Mussar (Ethics), Prophets, Talmud
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And every man should hasten to repent, and should be afraid that he will be punished for his sin before he [repents], as it is said, ‘Give honor to the Lord your God before it gets dark’ (Jeremiah 13:16), and it says, ‘And remember your Creator in the days of your youth, while the days of evil have not yet come…’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). And it also is taught in Tractate Shabbath (153A), ‘Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘Repent one day before you die.’ Rabbi Eliezer’s students asked him, ‘Does a person know on which day he will die?’ He said to them, ‘All the more so should a person repent today, lest he die tomorrow. Thence all his days he will be in repentance.’ And our Sages of blessed memory said in the first chapter of Tractace Rosh haShanah: ”Fortunate is the man who fears God.’ Fortunate is the man, and not the woman? It means, ‘Fortunate is the person who repents while he is a man.” And Rashi explains [this means] while he is a young man, in his strength, that is to say, he hurries to recognize his Creator before the days of old age, while he is a mighty man. And even though all repentence is excellent, even in one’s old age, as the verse states: ‘You cause man to repent until contrition (דכא)’ (Psalms 90:3), and our Sages of blessed memory said [this means] ‘until the time when life is crushed (דכדוכא) [i.e. old age]’ (Ruth Rabah to Ruth 3:13), nevertheless, the repentance that a man does during his youth, in his strength, is more desirable and acceptable before God.

(B’rith Avraham, Chapter 5)

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Comments
  1. Russell Mollot says:

    When a person has grown old and frail, seeing one’s steady decline, feeling ever-greater pain from an aging body, it is natural to seek help from our Creator, the Healer of ailments. So it is natural that in our troubled “Golden Years” we are driven to repent our long list of sins, and hope for Divine help. We are like the destitute, coming to the soup kitchen for help. But a YOUNG person is in the full bloom of heath and blossoming with strength, confident of his own powers and good fortune. He or she can depend on his or her G-d-given resources to address every difficulty. When such a person, possibly even too young to have accumulated many sins, nevertheless seeks to repent to our Creator, it demonstrates an untainted sincerity, not motivated by pain. It is as if a wealthy donor has entered the soup kitchen to volunteer his service. Thus, to repent while one is young is, indeed, very well-advised.

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