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What significance, if any, does Judaism attach to gray/white hair or to a person's hair turning gray/white? Does this significance hold true equally for men and women?

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1 Answer 1

VaYikra 19:32 states:

מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם, וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱ-לֹקיךָ, אֲנִי ה.‏

Rise before the hoary head, and honor the face of the elderly, and fear your G-d, I am HaShem.

(My translation)

Mishlei 16:31 states:

עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת שֵׂיבָה; בְּדֶרֶךְ צְדָקָה, תִּמָּצֵא

The hoary head is a crown of glory, it is found in the way of righteousness.

(JPS translation)

Pirkei Avoth 6:8 states:

רבי שמעון בן יהודה משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אומר:‏

הנוי והכח והעושר והכבוד והחכמה והזקנה והשיבה והבנים נאה לצדיקים ונאה לעולם.‏

שנאמר: עטרת תפארת שיבה בדרך צדקה תמצא. ואומר: עטרת זקנים בני בנים ותפארת בנים אבותם. ואומר: תפארת בחורים כוחם והדר זקנים שיבה. ואומר: וחפרה הלבנה ובושה החמה כי מלך ה' צבאות בהר ציון ובירושלים ונגד זקניו כבוד.‏

Rabbi Shimon the son of Judah would say in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, sageness, old age and children are becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world. As is stated (Proverbs 16:31): "Old age is a crown of beauty, to be found in the ways of righteousness." And it says (ibid. 20:29): "The beauty of youths is their strength, and the glory of sages is their age." And it says (ibid., 17:6): "The crown of sages are their grandchildren, and the beauty of children their fathers." And it says (Isaiah 24:23): "And the moon shall be abashed and the sun shamed, for the L-rd of hosts has reigned in Zion, and before his elders is glory."

Rabbi Shimon the son of Menasia would say: these seven qualities enumerated by the sages for the righteous were all realized in Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] and his sons.

(Chabad.org translation)

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