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Thought for the Day: Turning 60 Transcends Spiritual Excision

I have a very bright yellow windbreaker for biking.  A co-worker once said, "Wow!  No one is going to miss you in that jacket!"  I replied, "Actually... the point of this jacket is specifically so they will miss (i.e. not hit) me."  I wore that jacket home last night as I very, very carefully biked home.  Why so careful?  I really, really wanted to make it to my 60th birthday.  I got home, ate very carefully (didn't want to choke), then walked carefully to shul to daven with extra fervor (really, really wanting to make it to my 60th birthday), walked home and sat down to learn (can't have too many merits, you know).  Finally, finally nightfall of 12th Sivan, 5777 arrive; and with it, my 60th birthday!  Whew!  This morning, though, just as I entered my office building (feeling pretty darn good about having made it to 60), I was "greeted" by a t-shirt the color of my jacket that said, "My t-shirt is brighter than your future."  You really have to love the Sense of Humor of the Creator.

As you probably know, one of the more dire consequences associated with certain sins is כרת/spiritual excision.  Basically, it means one's soul is permanently disconnected from her Creator (at least in some dimensions).  That punishment manifests itself in dying early.  However, if one dies before 50 then it just means he was destined to have a short life.  If, however, he dies between 50 and 60 then it means either he was destined for a short life or he was under a sentence of כרת.  Making it to 60, however, means that he (in this case, your truly) has definitely not under a sentence of כרת.  That, of course, is cause for celebration.

However... I had a concern.  Chazal tell us that a convert is like a newly born person.  One thing that means is that he has no relatives.  So... I reasoned... since a non-Jew is not subject to the punishment of כרת and since I've only been Jewish for almost 27 years... maybe I had another 33 years to go.  Not the end of the world, but certainly a let down after the anticipated high.  On the other hand, there had been a bar mitzvah celebration at the vasikin minyan and the young man's p'shetel gave me reason for hope.

The bar mitzvah had occurred during s'firah.  Of course, one can only count s'fira with a bracha if he counts all 49 days.  The boy turned young man, though, is only obligated to count -- by the very definition of "bar mitzvah" -- from the time he turns 13.  The question, then, is whether his pre-obligated counting is enough to allow him to continue counting with a bracha after he reaches the age of majority.  Hey... I thought... that's a similar (though not completely parallel) situation to mine.  He brought a proof that he is allowed to continue counting with a bracha from a halacha that holds a very special place in my heart.  Namely, that a non-Jew who has children and then later converts is considered to have fulfilled his mitzvah to have children.  This is so even though at the time he was not obligated in that (or any other) mitzvos.  Cool!  So I least have a leg to stand on.

None the less, I asked R' Fuerst... Woo hoo!  I was told that the 60 years is, in fact, from birth and not just since becoming Jewish.  So there you have it... I have actually not committed any sins so grave as to cut me off eternally from my Creator.

Umm... yay?

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