|ח כִּי אִם-שָׁנִים הַרְבֵּה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם, בְּכֻלָּם יִשְׂמָח; וְיִזְכֹּר אֶת-יְמֵי הַחֹשֶׁךְ, כִּי-הַרְבֵּה יִהְיוּ כָּל-שֶׁבָּא הָבֶל.||11:8 For if a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.|
|ט שְׂמַח בָּחוּר בְּיַלְדוּתֶיךָ, וִיטִיבְךָ לִבְּךָ בִּימֵי בְחוּרוֹתֶיךָ, וְהַלֵּךְ בְּדַרְכֵי לִבְּךָ, וּבְמַרְאֵי עֵינֶיךָ; וְדָע, כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֵלֶּה יְבִיאֲךָ הָאֱלֹהִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט.||9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.|
|י וְהָסֵר כַּעַס מִלִּבֶּךָ, וְהַעֲבֵר רָעָה מִבְּשָׂרֶךָ: כִּי-הַיַּלְדוּת וְהַשַּׁחֲרוּת, הָבֶל.||10 Therefore remove vexation from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh; for childhood and youth are vanity.|
Rabbi Zalman Schachter, a founder of neo-hasidism and Jewish renewal, wrote extensively on "Age-ing and "Sage-ing." To hear him speak of spiritual eldering is to hear a modern version of Kohelet. In this excerpt, he speaks of how each human being is put here to share one insight, harvest it, and pass it on. Old age is not a time of diminishing capability, but of cultivating new spiritual and intellectual opportunities.
Kohelet teaches that life is short - that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Israel's great poet Yehuda Amichai begs to differ, suggesting that life is too short for the Kohelet's allotted seasons to be distinct, that the time to wail and the time to dance can and often do overlap. From this poem (below), we learn that we don't have the luxury of waiting for wisdom to arrive in our old age, and youth passes too quickly to give in to declining mental acuity. We can be smart and wise - and chew gum simultaneously. The brain, at any age, can multitask. There is time for everything, if we put our minds to it.
A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there's time for everything.