Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Jewish Birthdays are Special

 

Everyone’s birthday is special. But until I started to study Judaism more carefully, I didn’t realize how auspicious birthdays are to the Jewish people.

I think this statement makes the point well:

Your birthday commemorates the day on which G‑d said to you: ‘You, as an individual, are unique and irreplaceable. No person alive, no person who has ever lived, and no person who shall ever live, can fulfill the specific role in My creation I have entrusted to you…’

As a Jew I find this sentiment both overwhelming and heartening. It reinforces the belief I’ve arrived at that as a Jew, I have a serious responsibility to serve G-d and everyone whose life I touch. I accept G-d’s expectation for me to be creative and appreciate my life. And I feel grateful to be given the gift of life and the opportunity to serve. And I believe that G-d has invested me and all of us with His spirit. I also appreciate the beauty of this statement to Jews:

This is the day when you were given the mandate to change the world. The day when G‑d entrusted you with the mission to challenge a world that is hostile to spirituality and transform it into G‑d’s private sanctum. And in accomplishing this goal, you, too, were given the ability to achieve incredible spiritual heights—heights unimaginable to the soul before it was dispatched from its lofty heavenly abode to inhabit a physical body.

Celebrating a birthday is also a demonstration that you are and will continue to be worthy of G‑d’s trust. No matter the obstacles, you will persevere and live up to G‑d’s expectations of you.

In some Orthodox communities, boys who turn three years old receive their first haircut, called an Upsherin, and a special meal:

A child’s third birthday signals a major transition in his or her education. For the first three years of life, a child absorbs the surrounding sights and sounds and the parents’ loving care. The child is a receiver, not yet ready to give. At the age of three, children’s education takes a leap—they are now ready to produce and share their unique gifts.

At approximately three, girls can begin lighting the Sabbath candles. At five, a child begins formal Torah study; at 13, young people celebrate their coming of age with a bar mitzvah (boys) or bat mitzvah (girls).

I missed all of these celebrations. But I am now aware of this next one that is on the horizon:

The eighty-third birthday is also associated with a Jewish custom. Many believe that a person has lived a full life when reaching 70. According to Psalm 90:10, ‘The days of our years are seventy years.’ If you reach 83, you have the right to celebrate your bar mitzvah all over again.

I didn’t have a first bat mitzvah. But who knows what I will decide at 83, since today I am 70 years old.

 

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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There are 41 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    L’Chaim!

    • #1
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:46 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  2. She Thatcher
    She

    Happy Special Birthday, Susan!

    • #2
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:48 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Stad Thatcher

    Happy Birthday!

    Feel free to give neutral observer advice, because next year she also turns . . . uh . . . forget I said anything . . .

    • #3
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:00 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher

    Happy birthday, Susan.

    • #4
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:01 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  5. Podkayne of Israel Member

    The Rebbe was no fool.

    • #5
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:04 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    We invited five pairs of friends to join us at a nice dinner last night (since the space we wanted wasn’t available today). It was so lovely, and they are such great people–all neighbors. One neighbor, whom we call Mr. Mayor, put a sign on our lawn with balloons to wish me a happy birthday. It’s all good!

    Edit: Actually Jerry and I made the count 12, so we only invited 5 couples.

    • #6
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:04 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. James Hageman Coolidge

    Happy birthday!

    • #7
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:07 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Happy Birthday!

    Feel free to give neutral observer advice, because next year she also turns . . . uh . . . forget I said anything . . .

    Jerry suggested that Mr. Mayor also put my age on the sign, and he protested that he wasn’t about to do that! I’ve never been one of those women who feels she has to hide her age. I’ve worked darn hard to stay well enough for 70 and although I can be as vain as the next woman, I don’t see the big deal. 70 YEARS OLD! Yippee!

    • #8
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:10 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    And many more….

    • #9
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:12 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I want to acknowledge those of you who have wished me well, but I think I’ll do it in a group to avoid pumping up my comments. So thanks ever so much to @she, @percival, @JamesHageman, @vectorman, @iwe, @stad, and @podkayneofisrael. I’m most grateful for your good wishes.

    • #10
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Samuel Block Member

    Yay! Birthday!

    • #11
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Yay! Birthday!

    That was my excuse yesterday for calling you Simon. Is it working?

    • #12
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:30 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Samuel Block Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Yay! Birthday!

    That was my excuse yesterday for calling you Simon. Is it working?

    Of course it is Sheila! 😜

    I hope you have a wonderful day, week, year, and second life. (Does that start for you now, or after you’ve completed this year?)

    • #13
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:33 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Now that is a complicated question. I don’t know what Judaism says. But my husband likes to remind me that I’m actually beginning my 71st year.

    • #14
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:36 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Samuel Block Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Now that is a complicated question. I don’t know what Judaism says. But my husband likes to remind me that I’m actually beginning my 71st year.

    Okay, that makes sense. You’ve completed 70 years… so your not even 1 full day in!

    • #15
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:38 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    BTW, my Jewish calendar birthday is Cheshvan 23, 5780

    • #16
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:43 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  17. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I think I’ll do it in a group to avoid pumping up my comments.

    It’s your birthday. Pump away!

    • #17
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:46 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    Many happy returns of the day, Susan.

    • #18
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:47 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. TheRightNurse Member

    Image result for happy birthday Jamie in a kilt

    • #19
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:47 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    Image result for happy birthday Jamie in a kilt

    Cool! Ahem. From a distance, of course. . .

    • #20
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:48 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Happy Birthday, and Joyous Decadal Attainment! 

    • #21
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:53 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    TBA (View Comment):

    Happy Birthday, and Joyous Decadal Attainment!

    Woo-hoo! I’ll take it! and thanks to you, @robtgilsdorf, @therightnurse, @arahant, @samuelblock, too! It’s a lovely to celebrate!

    • #22
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:55 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. Umbra Fractus Lincoln

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I’ve never been one of those women who feels she has to hide her age. I’ve worked darn hard to stay well enough for 70 and although I can be as vain as the next woman, I don’t see the big deal.

    For what it’s worth, I thought you were younger.

    Happy birthday!

    • #23
    • November 20, 2019, at 1:05 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I’ve never been one of those women who feels she has to hide her age. I’ve worked darn hard to stay well enough for 70 and although I can be as vain as the next woman, I don’t see the big deal.

    For what it’s worth, I thought you were younger.

    Happy birthday!

    Hey, I love it! I’ll take it! Bonus points to the man who knew enough to flatter me!

    • #24
    • November 20, 2019, at 1:12 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    • #25
    • November 20, 2019, at 4:25 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  26. Bethany Mandel Editor

    My husband’s grandfather did this when he was 83! It’s a family party everyone is still talking about. Do it! 

    • #26
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:31 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  27. Bethany Mandel Editor

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I’ve never been one of those women who feels she has to hide her age. I’ve worked darn hard to stay well enough for 70 and although I can be as vain as the next woman, I don’t see the big deal.

    For what it’s worth, I thought you were younger.

    Happy birthday!

    Ditto!

    • #27
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  28. Gary McVey Contributor

    We’re so lucky you chose to share it with us, Susan!

    • #28
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:56 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  29. Kay of MT Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    BTW, my Jewish calendar birthday is Cheshvan 23, 5780

    Good grief, you’re old! But I still beat you by 11 years, so Happy Birthday, with bells, and chimes. May all your Birthdays be blessed.

    • #29
    • November 20, 2019, at 8:05 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  30. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Happy birthday Susan! Welcome to the 70 club! Oh, and welcome to the RMD club too, though you don’t hit that milestone until next year. I got caught this year.

    • #30
    • November 20, 2019, at 8:27 PM PST
    • 6 likes