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In this week's Torah portion, God gives the Jewish people certain laws that will lead to them having a more fulfilling life. One of the laws is:
"In the presence of an old person shall you rise..." (Lev. 19:32)
A LIFE LESSON
Rising in the presence of any person is certainly a sign of honor and respect. So what is about a person who's achieved "old age" that God tells the Jewish people that he should be so revered?
Perhaps it's because there's nothing in the world quite like experience. When a person gets older, he's lived a set of experiences that all the money in the world couldn't buy.
Your brain records everything that it's ever exposed to. There are literally billions of pieces of data right now stored in your brain - everything you've ever seen, smelt, and heard. This is why if you saw someone on the street that you haven't seen in ten years, you'll still be able to recognize instantly who he is. In fact, you'll even know if he's gained or lost weight since the last time you saw him!
The thing to realize is that all decisions you'll ever make are based upon all your previous life experiences. Therefore, an older person - no matter who he is or what he's done with his life - simply has more life experiences on which to base his decisions, opinions, and actions.
This certainly doesn't mean that older people always know the right answers or can give the best advice. However, elderly people will have something that someone younger just can't have. And that's a unique perspective and powerful insights that more years living in this world has given them.
God wants us always to remember just how valuable an elderly person's observations and advice can be. It's so worthy, in fact, that when you're "...in the presence of an old person shall you rise." And even if you don't physically stand up for him, don't compound this by not listening to what he has to say with open ears and a wide open mind. His advice could just give you the fresh perspective you've been missing.