There is a mitzvah to get up for a person aged over 70.

The link on the word “mitzvah” goes to Halchipedia. The first footnote relates to the age 70 and reads:

S”A YD 244:1 writes that it is a positive command to stand up for an elderly person of age 70. This is from the pasuk in the Torah (Vayikra 19:32) מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן. Kitzur S”A 144:2, Chaye Adam 69:2, and Aruch HaShulchan 244:1 agree. Birkei Yosef 244:4, however, quotes the Arizal who says that one should stand for a person of age 60. Sh”t Yabia Omer 3:13 and 9:13 writes that while the halacha follows S”A, one who is strict for the Arizal will be blessed.

We are grateful to Hashem that a larger proportion of the population is now over 70 years old than was the case over many years.

Has anyone commented on the nature of this mitzvah in these changed circumstances?

This excellent shiur by Rabbi Herschel Schachter explains that there are halochos where change in circumstances allow a change in the din (and halochos where they do not).

  • Can you edit an explanation as to how the word שיבה calculates to age 70? I think Pirkei Avot alludes to that, but it's not obvious in your question.
    – DanF
    Oct 31, 2018 at 22:04
  • Would the underlying rationale be since there’s a large proportion of 70 year olds therefore such a senior doesn’t carry distinction to-day, or since there’s such a large proportion its “burdensome” to keep the implications of said mitzvah?
    – Oliver
    Oct 31, 2018 at 22:04
  • 1
    I don't understand what you're expecting here.
    – Double AA
    Oct 31, 2018 at 22:25
  • 1
    Why would it change? You're assuming the mitzvah is because they achieved some accomplishment? Because it's rare? I've heard it's respect because of their collected life experience
    – robev
    Oct 31, 2018 at 22:35
  • @robev please read my answer.
    – Al Berko
    Nov 1, 2018 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


Well, Oliver's comment caused me to publish this as an answer:

Actually for Mitzvos בין אדם לחבירו we do take into consideration cultural and social circumstances. As we experience huge changes in those areas we observe how those Mitzvahs' observance changes with time. Examples:

  • Tzedakka: Halachicly you're obligated to provide full support for EVERY needy that turns to you, but once there are so many (in Meah Shearim for instance) you pick who you help to and how much. You are not obligated to do "the full Mitzvah" for every needy".

  • Honoring Parents: Halachically one is obligated to stand before his parents and so it was for centuries. Norms changed, and you won't find that today in most frum families.

  • Returning lost property: Norms have changed dramatically with the technological advances. If you come by a building (Jewish) with its lights on you don't scream "השבת אבידה", it is very acceptable nowadays. The bar for returning property has raised significantly, nobody returns pens, Kipas or other small items.

  • Standing before Rabbis in a Kolel: Halachically one is obligated to stand before every Rabbi, but once there are too many it interferes with learning Torah or other activities, one becomes automatically Potur.

Note: A possible Halachic Ptur for the mentioned behaviors is that it is ruled that as the person himself precedes other in all Mitzvos בין אדם לחבירו, like אבידתך קודמת, those Mitzvos should not come at expense of personal suffering. Once a person suffers, he precedes others, and that takes over the Mitzvah.

Same here, once there are too many elders, a person can pick when and to whom he'd like to perform that Mitzvah and technically Potur from others.

Same here, once there are so many elders, you pick when to do the Mitzvah.

  • Haven't ve agreed not to downvote without commenting?
    – Al Berko
    Nov 1, 2018 at 0:38
  • 2
    I feel really bad for you, Al. It seems a lot of your answers on here get downvoted. I think it might be because you don't present any sources.
    – ezra
    Nov 1, 2018 at 4:59

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