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Chayei Sarah(Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Only The Good Die Young

Newly Revised

One of the most insidious messages Hollywood has foistered on mankind is that only the bad have fun.

You will have to stretch your memory back very far indeed to find a character who had interesting dialogue or as much fun as the bad guy.

Bad guys always seem to do interesting things, drive fast cars, get all the really good lines. Good guys are boring, simple and one-dimensional.

You might be thinking, "Well, that's what they really are like!"

The truth is quite the opposite.

Let me tell you a true story. A friend of mine who is a very sharp cookie had her car towed away in Washington, DC. When she went to collect it, she explained to the attendant that the police towed it improperly since it was really parked legally. The attendant agreed but told her he couldn't release a car unless the fine was paid. However, he said, when she gets the car she could appeal and maybe get her money back.

After reluctantly paying the fine, she got her car and asked for the appropriate office of appeals. She was given the info, but the attendant added this warning, "You won't get your money back."

"Why?" My friend asked.

"Because the person who runs the office is a miserable person, whose only joy in life is the power he wields and never gives back the fines ever."

"Hmm," my friend thought, not being one to just sit by and be unjustly punished, "There has to be a way to get my money back."

She called the appeals office and after reaching Mr. Power, this is about how the conversation went:

After explaining the details of the incident and why she was unjustly fined, she said this, "I am sure you cannot help me so could you please direct me to the person who has the power to give me back my money?"

Well, you can imagine the response. "Oh no, I am that person, I can give you back your money." And so he did.

If you read the story of Shimshon (Samson) carefully, you will realize this was his strategy all along. Once you understand someone's base desire, his evil inclination (yetzer hara), he really has few to no choices in life. He will do whatever power, greed, arrogance, jealousy or whatever it happens to be tells him to do.

He becomes one-dimensional.

I guess you can't expect the writers of Hollywood movies who are not exactly - how can I put this - readers of, to understand that it's the good guys who really have depth and character and life. Bad people are extremely boring. They only think about one thing and can never rise to the occasion. They are caught in a web of their own desires and insecurities.

And, they also die old. Worse than that, they live old. They become petty and insecure and see everything in a negative light. "Old" is not a factor of the years you have lived, it's a factor of the way you live those years.

Youth has nothing to do with whether your birthday coming up starts with a 5,6,7 and up. Young people, whatever birthday they are celebrating, know life is full or opportunity. They know good prevails, they know a good deed is a lot better than the alternative and they believe in people and the future.

Visit an old-age home and you can easily tell the difference between the old and the young. Sometimes the young are wheeling the old, sometimes the other way around. Either way, no number will help you figure out who's who, only the smiles - or lack thereof - on their faces.

That is this week's Torah portion. Sarah died at 127 years young. As Rashi, the pre-eminent Torah commentator, points out: As she was at 7, so at 20 and 100, "All equally good."

You see, as Billy Joel sang, only the good die young.


* * *



Question 1: Who is the youngest person you know according to the above definition?

Question 2: What do you think keeps him so young and how can you apply that in your life?

Question 3: Do you worry more about being old or looking old?

October 16, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, November 23, 2016 1:23 PM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(5) Michael, November 12, 2012 9:59 AM

Outstanding article.

The good people at "AISH" never fail to amaze me with the articles. I been reading articles, etc at for ages. I have given out Aish' web site to both Jew and Gentile and everyone is in awe after going to this site. has made me a better personn and I am 62 years of age. May the Almighty always bless the good and faithful staff ay Aish,com for they are all a direct gift from G-d himself to all people who read so-so many articles that are always great reading. Again, may G-d bless the good people at Aish and all the Jews in the world, Amen,

(4) Miriam, November 8, 2012 1:01 PM

They also actually die at a young age!

How many die from drugs, plane crashes, etc. Very sad.

(3) Cherry, October 29, 2010 7:57 PM

Many thanks.

I am a Christian but have been reading Aish now for over two years. I read the torah portion each week and then check out a variety of commentators on here. I really love your contribution. It is always the first one I read. I love the wisdom you impart and the fact that it is not only well explained, in a deceptively simple manner, but also, usually, very funny too. I value the whole site and have passed on many of the things I have read on here. Thank you, and I hope no one will take it amiss if I say God Bless I

(2) Anonymous, November 14, 2009 2:09 AM

Only An Answer To #3

I do not worry about being old or looking old. In regard to aging, my concerns are more related to being as healthy as possible and with respect to wanting facial lines or wrinkles that are from happiness and smiling rather than sadness or anger.

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