After Avraham prayed for the people of Sodom, HaShem told him, “You have conducted yourself beautifully in your attempt to save them from destruction.”

Avraham responded, “You say that I am beautiful. However, when I enter a town with my son, nobody can tell us apart because we look identically alike. As people grow older there needs to be a distinguishing mark to differentiate father from son, so that the father will receive his due respect.”

Consequently, Avraham went to sleep and when he awoke, his hair and beard were grey. In summation, Avraham prayed for old age and was the first person to turn grey.

Yet, his response awakens a question: Why did he react to HaShem’s compliment with a complaint? Could anything be sweeter than to receive a kind word from HaShem? Moreover, why was there no sign of old-age prior to this time?

Rather, this passage reveals a great secret. Our purpose in this earthly existence is to bring material entities into completeness, as Rabbi Akiva taught, “A freshly baked cake is superior to stalks of wheat.”

When HaShem praised Avraham, He revealed that elders are honored in Heaven. Therefore, Avraham realized that it was his task to initiate the honoring of elders in this world. Accordingly, he prayed that HaShem should make a distinguishing mark so that elders will receive their due respect.

May we improve the quality of our society by granting the appropriate honor and respect to our elders
[Based on the Midrash Tanchuma]

TODAY: Honor an elderly person with sincere respect and dignity.