In the comments section of the post: Getting Priorities Straight, a visitor to the site, The Count, left a beautiful d'var Torah that I've received permission to display on its own. Please enjoy.
The Torah tells us in this week's parsha that Abraham was "zakein, ba ba-yamim - he was old and advanced in days".Recognizing the redundancy, the Midrash helpfully points out that "there are some that are 'zakein' but not 'ba ba-yamim' and there are some that are 'ba ba-yamim' but no 'zakein', but Abraham was both 'zakein' as well as 'ba ba-yamim'".
Rabbi Mordechai Rogov, zt"l (formerly from Illinois) explains the Midrash beautifully.The terms 'zakein' and 'ba ba-ymaim' are not synonymous, he says. 'Zakein' means old, and refers to the things that a person learnt, the concepts that he grasped and the values that he cherished when he was younger ("the days of old"). In contrast, 'ba ba-yamim', literally "coming with the days", refers to one's awarenss of contemporary society ("with the times").
The Midrash is telling us that there are some people that remain true to the traditions that they were raised in, but they can't "fit in" to today's world; they can't adjust to the society around them.
Conversely, there are those that quickly reject the teachings that they learned when they were younger to "mesh" with the latest trend, no matter how much it might go against their previous belief system.
Not so with our forefather Abraham. Altough he was advanced in years, he remained firm in the values that he learned as a young man - the belief in one G-d, doing kidness, and mitzvot. He was 'zakein'. At the same time though, he was able to relate to contemporary society, to reach out to them, and to integrate his Torah knowledge with the world around him. He was also 'ba ba-yamim'.
If "the actions of the fathers are a sign for their children" then we should emulate this conduct of Abraham as we adhere to Torah lifestyle while living in the modern world.Shabbat Shalom!