For Avrohom Avinu, at ninety nine years old things started popping.
When we think about a Bris Milah we immediately conjure up images of a new life, a new beginning and a fresh start. Our Parsha begins when Avrohom Avinu was ninety-nine years old. He had just had a Bris Milah. It is difficult to consider ninety-nine years old a new start for anything or anyone, yet to Avrohom Avinu - things were just starting to fall into place. His goals were starting to materialize. Avrohom now was told that his descendants would survive forever and teach the world about G-d. Avrohom became personally closer to G-d than he ever was before. He was finally able to achieve many of his personal aspirations. At ninety nine years old things started popping.
If we still have energy at an advanced age how will we prioritize our lives? What we will be interested in? When all the gadgetry of life and the empty yearning for possessions will become meaningless what new things will become important?
What did Avrohom Avinu do at ninety-nine years old? Holier and stronger than ever, he removed the doors to his tent and let the world in. He could have become an ascetic, a holy meditator and an untouchable symbol of G-dliness. He could have said, “Enough with the world, I need time alone to write, to think and to pray.” On the contrary, Avrohom removed all borders, took away all barriers and let the whole world in. Avrohom Avinu became the quintessential people person, the quintessential Jew - he became the baal chesed. Instead of withdrawing himself from the world he became more involved with it.
A couple of weeks ago an expert in eldercare made a comment to my wife and me that stuck. She said, “As we get older we become more of ourselves.” It's a bit scary to ponder that while looking in the mirror. Avrohom Avinu in his old age became more concerned with people, and the world became more important than ever.
Where are we heading? What retirement package are we dreaming of? Avrohom Avinu, our teacher, taught by example that the ultimate goal has to be the welfare of the world. As we travel through the trials of life, the condition and welfare of our friends, family and community members must become more and more important. In the beginning we have to look inward, grow and build ourselves. As we get older we have to become more and more altruistic and part of the world. We have to end up not where Avrohom started, but where he finished up.
As long as we are alive we have to grow. Our priorities have to become more and more refined. We have to become greater, higher, kinder, holier and a greater asset to society. Like Avrohom Avinu we can never stop being a productive part of the world. Let us all pray that G-d bless the world with kindness.
By Rabbi Yaacov Haber