Dear Friend,

My youngest son and I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with my grandmother. As I balanced the needs of a toddler and a nonagenarian, the parallels between the two flashed through my mind.

My son is at that stage where he understands but does not yet talk. He uses sounds and motions, and sometimes resorts to tugging until we realize what he wants.

My grandmother is always great to talk to, yet she is at that stage where she sometimes forgets a word, a thought, or worse, a name, resulting in frustration on her part.

My son speeds up and down the stairs. I try to encourage his budding independence while at the same time ensuring that he does not get hurt.

My grandmother wishes to continue living as she always has, but her body is frail. So as I watch her cautiously climbing the stairs, I try to respect her dignity while protecting her from being hurt.

Our babies and our seniors deserve to be heard, esteemed and treated with dignity, whether they can speak or not, whether they remember who we are or not.

The Torah enjoins us to honor and respect our elders. Over these few days, I learned that dignity truly starts in infancy.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on dignity (or on my musings).

Chana Benjaminson,
on behalf of the Editorial Team