Aug 29, 2006
In case somehow you missed all the tremendous hype, Harriet the giant tortoise celebrated her 175th birthday at the end of 2005 and is now, reportedly the world's oldest living creature. Her longevity has been put down to lifestyle and genes, and her keepers at Australia Zoo in Queensland say she could reach 200! "She's not under any pressure, she goes at her own steady pace, doesn't burn up any energy and is loved by everybody," says a zoo spokesman. Fascinating stuff eh?
At the moment, the oldest authenticated age achieved by a human is 122 years and 164 days, according to the Guinness Book of Records. French-born Jeanne-Louise Calment put her long life down to keeping active. She took up fencing at 85 and was still riding a bicycle at 100.
According to classic Jewish sources, there might be another way to achieve old age: The great Rabbi Moshe Sofer who lived in Bratislava in the 1800's, once met a very old man and asked him:
"Long life is a gift, so tell me what exemplary act did you do to merit these long years?"
The old man replied. "Actually, I did nothing special but I have a different theory about long life. I stuck to it and it worked for me.
My friends and I all went through their share of misfortunes in life. We all do. They are, however, not here any longer. I am. You see every time tragedy struck, my friends would ask the Almighty, why did this happen? How did I come to deserve this? They would plead and prod the Creator for answers that no mortal mind could understand.
And you know what happened? He said, 'Do you really want to understand? Come, I will show you.' And so He took them to a place where all the mysteries of life are revealed, a place where the past and the future collide and today's actions are the answers to history's expostulations. I, on the other, hand, was not so curious. And if I was, I did not ask, 'Why?' Rather, I accepted what happened."
Then the man smiled. "And do you know what? He never invited me upstairs to explain anything!"