What reaching the age of seventy means to me:
It means realizing that life passes so quickly, and regardless of the number of years we are granted, the challenge is to live each day as fully as possible.
It means looking at my blessings: I have a devoted wife, three beautiful, healthy and kind-hearted children, all of whom feel a measure of contentment with their lives. I also have three loving grandchildren with one more on the way.
Reaching the age of seventy means having shared most of my life with so many good and gracious people. I came to this newly formed small congregation at the age of twenty-seven. I had a vision that this congregation would grow, not only in numbers. I wanted to help build a worthy congregation that embraced our Jewish ideals of pursuing justice, acting with loving-kindness, and welcoming all who would be a part of us. I wanted to be a rabbi “different” than most of those I had known who seemed distant and unapproachable. I wanted to do it my own way with integrity, kindness and ongoing self-evaluation and awareness.
It means having learned that all people, regardless of age, need to feel significant. We are all involved in the quest for inner peace and feeling that we have a worthy purpose in life.
It means having learned that bad things do happen to good people, and not having a good answer as to why. Only to know and accept that life is not fair and that good people do not always get what they deserve.
Reaching the age of seventy means having been touched by so many people’s lives, and touching their lives, especially at the momentous times of life. So many births and baby-naming’s, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Confirmations, weddings, and yes funerals also. So many whom I remember who impacted upon my life.
It means having taught Judaism to so many people, and hopefully succeeded in making our religious tradition meaningful to you and your children.
Our sages long ago taught that the age of seventy marks a time of “fullness of years.” While I surely do not feel “old,” I do feel grateful to have a loving family, to be in relatively good health, and to feel that I still have a meaning and purpose in my life. So is this a day of feeling “gratitude for the blessings that have been showered upon me,” (words from my Bar Mitzvah speech.) I say, “Thank you” to each and all of you who have added richness and satisfaction to my life. I have truly known “fullness of years,” and look forward to the coming years, not knowing what they will hold for me, but wanting to live them in the fullest way that I can.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Greenberg