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We are getting older…

June 1, 2017

Don’t regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many” – unknown

Summary of Parsha Naso in a nutshell – 

Completing the headcount of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levite men between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle. 

G‑d communicates to Moses the law of the sotah, the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Also given is the law of the nazir, who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body. Aaron and his descendants, the kohanim, are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel. 

The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Torah.

Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

In this week’s Parsha Naso we read about the counting of the Jewish people in Sinai. There is a lesson we can learn from the fact that Moshe counted everyone – Hashem wanted to teach us here that everyone is important. No one can be too far away, too old or too insignificant, (conversely, no one is so great that he can think he is worth more, or has finished his work.)

That is the job of the Tzadikim (righteous people) or the elders in every generation; to remind us that everyone is number one and everyone counts. And even if you are in a desolate desert and the situation seems impossible, your one good deed also counts and can change it all. The Gemara in Kiddushin (30) declares that “whoever teaches his grandchild Torah is regarded as if he received the Torah from Mt Sinai……”

This is a bit of a weird blog to write as I don’t consider myself old, but a few factors have made me say – Let’s give this Blog a go and see how it turns out.

The catalyst for this blog was that I noticed on TV an advert for a new program, which I think is titled “Getting Older”, but I am not sure and I can’t find anything on Google. I thought to myself why would they make such a program?

Last Sunday evening, I bumped into my friend the Anton “the Demon” and I asked about his latest injury and he said, “Ian, we are getting old…” I have written in previous blogs about my OTS/ fatigue issues and my new restricted (and hopefully temporary) training regime. Over Shavuot I explained my condition to my training buddy Alex and he said “Ian, we getting slower as we getting older…” Last week I tried a clinical Pilates class and the physio mentioned that as we get older our muscles take longer to recover, muscle fibres reduce in number and shrink in size, causing a loss in muscle ‘mass’.

So it appears that ageing athletes are fighting an uphill battle. But for most I don’t believe the issue is ageing so much as it is detraining, misuse and disuse.” – Triathlon coach – Joe Friel

Joe Friel has written many good Blogs on this topic[1] that are worth reading, but a takeaway from this topic and something to remember about the importance of exercise as we get older:

  • At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse; and
  • Recent studies show that fewer than one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 years do enough exercise to improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness.

The second reason for doing this Blog was an article that Loren spotted in the Sunday Herald Sun titled “Secrets of ageing well from a happy doctor”. The article is about celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight (aka Dr James Wright)[2]. He talks about his life and battles, but list his 3 secrets. These are – Help others, don’t eat sugar and stay busy. Talking about not eating sugar – he says he tells all patients to eat no sugar, to eat more vegetables and to walk for at least a half hour per day (Per an article in the Sunday Herald Sun – B+S Section – 30 min of daily walking lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer), but the doctor says that no one listens!

The third reason for this Blog, is that I am currently reading Mark Manson’s book “THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK[3]. In the book, he says that as we get older, we gain experience and notice that most of these things cause us to react have little lasting impact on our lives. He goes on to say, and I love this quote “Essentially, we become more selective about the fucks we’re willing to give. This is something called ‘maturity.’ It’s nice, you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy.” He then goes on to speak about being middle aged, I suppose old age and then on our deathbed.

The Sunday Age had an article[4] titled “Swearing by it”. I loved this quote from the author of the article, Tracey Spicer – “It’s marvellous watching older woman gain power through profanity. We’ve been silenced for so long, it’s a relief to bloody well speak out.”

I noticed an interesting article in the Huffington Post[5] on Parsha Naso. I will paraphrase a few paragraphs. This does not directly relate to getting older but relates to our OLD habits. (That some people say, never die..)

“In Jewish tradition, powerful historical events like the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai are thought of not simply as one-time occurrences, but as phenomena, we celebrate by embodying the experience of the event. On Passover, we are instructed to see ourselves as if we ourselves and not just our ancestors have made and are making the journey from slavery to freedom. Similarly, on Shavuot we attempt to relive the ecstatic and transcendent Sinai experience by staying up all night studying Jewish texts, preparing ourselves for revelation anew.

After all, that excitement and intensity comes this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Naso. In some ways, this Parsha can be a bit of a letdown. We’ve just encountered the Divine and opened ourselves to Torah. Down from the mountain, we turn back to the weekly cycle only to be confronted with the mundane details of census taking, priestly duties, and extensive descriptions of sacrificial offerings brought by each tribe as part of the Temple dedication.

In some ways, Parshat Naso very much feels like “after the ecstasy, the laundry”. In Jack Kornfeld’s book by this title, he writes,

Most of us have to re-enter the marketplace to fulfil our realisation. As we come down from the mountain, we may be shocked to find how easily our old habits wait for us, like comfortable and familiar clothes. Even if our transformation is great and we feel peaceful and unshakable, some part of our return will inevitably test us.

Here we are, post-Shavuot, down from the mountain, being challenged to integrate our newfound revelation with the nitty-gritty of how many bulls, rams and oxen each tribe offered up for anointing the altar.”

The fourth reason for this Blog, is a quote I noticed on Instagram – “Growing old is a long-established habit of losing the authority to remain vital” – Guru Singh. In a subsequent post, I think he explains this “Staying young and vibrant throughout life — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually — requires maintenance of an authority to be unique, and never give up.

To summarise – We are all getting older, but it what we do to try to keep young!

  • Keep exercising,
  • Eat healthily,
  • Helping others,
  • Focussing on the important things and not giving a f…k about the rest,
  • Remembering that old habits CAN be changed; and
  • Remaining unique.

To really end this Blog, a quote I noticed on our synagogues “The Blake Street Blurb[6]” – “You know you’re grown up when a nap is no longer a punishment, but a reward









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