Thoughts on Turning 50

By Chaplain Major, Rabbi Avraham Cohen

There is an interesting concept espoused in the Talmud,[1] which teaches that at 50 years one has reached the age to give counsel – that when one turns 50, he or she is imbued with the vision of sage advice.  At age 50, we have acquired both the wisdom and experience to know better.  And in most cases, we still have the intellectual strength and peace of mind to act upon our convictions, and/or to help right the ship of those seeking our counsel.  We may have young adult children following our footsteps and doing the same dumb things along the trail of stupidity that we blazed in our youth.  “Do as I say, not as I did” – it does not sound so unreasonable to us now as it did seem hypocritical and foolhardy when we were young.  And so the cycle continues.

Fifty is that age at which we have confidence and certitude of spirit that what we have achieved so far has often been worth the sacrifice.  And though some dreams may as of yet be unrealized, that’s OK, because there is still time left, and we have the energy to still strive for it.  We have made our share of mistakes, to be sure.  But who among us hasn’t?  And anyone who appears to be error-free cannot possibly be credible.  What skeletons are they hiding?  Fifty is a special milestone:  most of us are not yet in cognizable decline; yet we are not as brash and cocksure of ourselves as we were in our 20s and 30s.  It’s harder to keep the weight down; workout recovery is a bit longer.  But those are physical issues. Psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, we have come of age.  Age 50.  Thank G-d for this great milestone.  May He bless us with 50 more!


[1] Tractate Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 5:22.