In addition to performing a life-preserving cushion, hair also displays Hashem's wonders.
On page 5, Rav Miller describes a single wispy strand of hair:
You know that hair under the microscope looks like a tower? And not a plain primitive tower like the Washington Monument.
Each hair is a wonderfully constructed edifice of complicated planning built up like a skyscraper.
If you look at a hair under the microscope and you follow it up to its tip, you see that there are stairs.
It tapers up in stages, and each stage is built up on a pedestal of the stage beneath it.
Each stage becomes narrower than the previous one and is set into the bottom one just like something is set into a socket.
And it’s at the sockets that the hair is pliable. It’s not like we think the hair is one long entity.
At the various sockets of each hair, the hair bends. It’s a complicated business, a strand of hair.
We're used to seeing it, but the process is quite incredible.
We eat, our cells turn our food into keratin, and the keratin turns into hair.
And then at some point, a person's hair turns white.
What White Hair Signals Socially
Fading hair signals age to society.
It means that person no longer needs to do all they were expected to do before.
A white-haired man no longer needs to go to war, for example.
He can sit.
White hair also signifies a lifetime of experience & accumulated wisdom.
Of course, this depends on the old person.
As Rav Miller says (page 7):
Now, some people get a diploma, even a semicha, they get by deception.
They call themselves rabbi in the telephone book but they know nothing...So an old man who hasn’t learned anything in life except wrongdoings, he is carrying around a counterfeit document.
In fact, you can hear them spout the same empty-headed platitudes from mainstream media that their grandchildren spout.
But ideally, old age should bring wisdom.
And there are still wise older people around.
Another problem today is the social tendency to "look toward the children!" and "listen to what the children have to say!"
Needless to say, if a child needs to express his or her thoughts or feelings regarding a personal situation, then that's fine.
But modern society considers children pure and therefore wiser than others.
You see teenagers & preteens getting tons of attention for speaking about controversial issues — and usually, they've no grasp of the long-term effects of the issues or even of the complexities surrounding the short-term effects.
Ronald Reagan was criticized about his old age while John F. Kennedy was praised for his youth.
Certainly, if a person's brain is old & deteriorating, then that's a problem. Likewise, the problem mentioned above regarding an older person who never learned from his wrongdoings.
But all things being equal, leadership & counsel should go to the hands of the older not the younger.
What White Hair Says to You
It's a sign that time is running out.
Hopefully, that's not scary or depressing, but motivating.
Growing old represents Hashem's chessed in giving us notice and time to get our act together.
The stooped posture of many much older people symbolizes looking for something lost (as if one dropped a coin on the ground & tries to spot it).
But even the definition of "lost" means different things.
People tend to mourn over what they lost even when they can't take it with them.
There are priorities.
As Rav Miller explains on page 15:
At the end a man realizes that he didn’t lose anything.
You lost candy? You lost romance? You lost money?
You can’t take it with you anyhow. So what is the use?
You were looking for glory? You never had it anyhow.
It was an illusion.
What is glory?
Let’s say, the board of directors and the sisterhood of the hospital are sitting and applauding you.
Feh! They are not even thinking about you!
While they’re clapping for you, they’re thinking. “When do they serve the supper! When are they going to get through handing out the testimonials and start serving supper?”
So you didn’t lose anything.
It was one big illusion.
“I am seeking what I never lost; I am seeking something far beyond that. Maybe in my youth I didn’t look earnestly enough; let me look now at least.”
The Tragedy of Wasting One's Last Years
Rav Miller speaks of the tragedy of older people who waste their last years.
This incident on page 20 page struck me hard:
Isn’t it a tragedy when an old man wastes his last years?
I was once riding on a bus; sitting alongside me was a chossid.
Right in front there was an old man reading the New York Times.
So the chossid – he had some boldness, so he said aloud, “Isn’t it a pity?” he said, “An old man in his last years reading the Times instead of saying Tehillim?”
The old man turned around and mumbled something. He mumbled.
What could you expect?
If you’re a student of the New York Times for years and years, you’re not going to change in your last moment.
It hurts my heart because at least this old man seemed to have some idea of what "saying Tehillim" meant.
The older Jewish men in the community in which I grew up (and family members in other places) would have no idea what that means.
But a lot would not & will not.
Even the word "Tehillim" — It'd be like, "What'd you say? 'Tell him'? Tell him what?"
A lot remain with non-Jewish wives until the day they die. If she underwent a fake conversion, then he thinks his wife & children are Jewish & has no idea of the terrible harm he does to himself for most of his life.
(You should know that just for THIS alone, I hold terrible resentment against the movements for Conservative & Reform Judaism for creating & perpetrating this hoax I witnessed my whole life. There are Jews who never would have married a non-Jew...except for this destructive hoax of pseudo-conversions for the non-Jewish spouse. I don't know what will be with the Olam Haba of any of them. It's very frightening.)
But the ones married to non-Jews are more or less the same.
At least the man knew enough to mumble.