Seven stages of MAN – Midrash on Koheles

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There’s a particular Midrash about man’s lifecycle that I find very true. Shlomo HaMelech wrote in Koheles a Pasuk that uses the word “vanity” seven times. This alludes therefore to the seven stages of ones life, which is generally entrenched in vanity.

In his infancy he is like a king, fondled, kissed, and made much of. He sits in a high-chair and fed delicacies without working a day.

At the age of two or three years he is more like a pig rolling in the mud, etc.

When about ten years of age he is somewhat like a little kid, jumping about and skipping. He plays sports, which is good for body and mind.

About the age of twenty he resembles the wild horse in his lusts and desires, (combing his mane of hair when he’s dating). When married he is not unlike the ass in his dulness and cheerlessness and sleepiness.

Becoming a parent, he becomes bold like the dog in his anxiety to obtain sustenance for his family. He works hard, gives a lot, gets little in return. A dog says in a thick voice “Hav Hav,” which in Hebrew means “second, second” (like, “give me a second to provide all that’s needed, stop being on my back, פֿאַר דרייווינג מיר נישט דעם קאָפּ “)

And in his old age, with his furrows and wrinkles, he is not unlike an ape. As well, his mental capacity has waned to that where his actions and reactions are ape-like.
–Mid. Eccles. (Koheles) 1.

This is normally the life one will live should he live in vanity, as an “‘Am Ha’Aretz.” Many people mistake an ‘Am Ha’Aretz to be a complete idiot. That’s not true, as an ‘Am Ha’Aretz can be an intelligent being. An ‘Am Ha’Aretz, as someone described it to me, is one who lives in the “here and now,” not seeing the bigger picture, or the grand scheme of things.

Once we start seeing the grander scheme of things, which is no small feat, we can hope to perhaps break through some of these stages and live a life of wisdom, clarity, sharpness of mind, ease, and joy, all the while noting that there’s Someone Who is seeing the greater picture and therefore operating for the “greater good.”