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    I wish you long life – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why does Anglo-Jewish custom include telling a mourner, “I wish you long life”?

    A. The implication is that the deceased has died too early and we are telling the survivors, “We pray that you yourselves will have length of days”.

    The Torah promises long life as a reward for ethical living (Ex. 20:12, Deut. 5:16, Deut. 22:7, Deut. 25:13-15). If then, someone has not been blessed with a long life, we hope there is no implication that they did not merit the reward of a long life.

    How we define long life depends on the particular stage of history. The traditional concept is that long life is 120, like Moses who at that age was still hale and hearty and capable of leadership (Deut. 34).

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