70 on 70: An Adventure

By Shlomo  Maital

  To celebrate my 70th birthday on Nov. 10, I went on a 70 km. (42 mile) hike in the Dead Sea Mountains, with my three sons and second-oldest grandson.  The hike took us just over 48 hours.  On the last morning, we rose at 4:30 a.m., had coffee and set out to climb Mt. Elazar, reaching the top just before sunrise.   During our trek, we had many hours of conversation together, lots of bonding (especially during and after some hard climbs), amazing campfire meals (all our boys are experts at “poyka”, cooking in a heavy iron pot) that included wine and cold beer, and incredible views in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.  We mostly walked in solitude, as very few other hikers chose to hike mid-week and in November.  Some hard training beforehand helped me complete the trek without undue hardship.  My family surprised me when everyone (our daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and all the grandchildren, all dozen of them, the long the (very) short and the tall, [except for our oldest, who is abroad earning some money], showed up to spend shabat together at our home in Haifa.  My wife Sharona somehow managed to prepare great shabat meals for all those hungry mouths.  

   What I want to share, about 70 on 70, is this:  From the dual vantage points of age (three score and ten, in Biblical terms) and height (Mt. Elazar), it is so clear that in later life,  what brings true joy and serenity is the family, the shining faces of the babies and grandchildren, the loving faces of the children.   Family is the supreme value.  Protect and cherish it.