And Abraham grew old and he came in days…
The phrase ba bayamim, commonly translated “advanced in days,” literally means “he came in[to his] days.” Thus, it is not just another way of saying “old,” but a description of a certain type of agedness—a way of living in which one fully enters into one’s days, rather than merely “marking time” and allowing them to pass by without experiencing them and exploiting them to the utmost.
Human nature is such that our interest in life often wanes as our years accumulate. In our youth, life is exciting and replete with opportunity; we fully immerse ourselves in every moment, every encounter, every experience. But as we age, we become less involved in our days. We have experienced much disappointment; in any case, we’ve seen it all. Life’s joys become less exhilarating, its sorrows less acute.
It is Abraham’s greatness that as he grew old, he continued to enter into his days. A lifetime of seeking and achievement, of trials and triumphs, did not diminish his thirst for life. All his days were fully explored by him, fully possessed, fully utilized.
Based on an address by the Rebbe, Shabbat Chayei Sarah, 5748 (1987)
. Likkutei Sichot, vol. XXXV, p. 91.