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Burst of Inspiration

#17 – Talmidei Chachamim and the Elderly

Another two asehs that a person can violate is “מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם, וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן”. There are two separate points that the Torah tells us. In front of a seivah one should get up. Explains the Gemara, in front of a wise person even if he is young, you are obligated to stand up; you’re obligated to treat a wise person, a talmid chacham, with honor. “וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן”, you should treat with awe the face of an older person. Even if he’s not a talmid chacham, explains the Gemara, a person who is 70 or older you have to treat with honor, and therefore both of these apply. Meaning to say, if a person is a talmid chacham who is young, I have to both stand up for him and v’hadarta, I have to have the right awe for him. If a person is 70 or older, even if he’s not a talmid chacham I also have to stand up for him and I have to treat him with awe, with due respect.

The Chafetz Chaim explains that obviously if you’re going to be speaking lashon hara about either a talmid chacham who is young or even an older person, a zakein who is not a talmid chacham, you are not treating them with awe, with respect. You’re debasing them, you’re degrading them, so besides all of these particular issues of “לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ”, “לִפְנֵי עִוֵּר”, all of the various lo sa’asehs, additionally you’re being mevatel this mitzvas aseh of “מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם, וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן”.

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