The emperor asked R. Joshua b. Hanania, ‘Why did you not attend the Be Abedan?’The Be Abedan was likely a conclave of religious dispute - perhaps with early Christians. He absence was conspicuous. But it is R. Joshua b. Hanania's answer which is interesting. He answers with a parable:
‘The mountain is snowy, it is surrounded by ice, the dog does not bark and the grinders do not grind,’ he replied.That is: my head is white and so is my beard. My voice is weak and my teeth don't work.
What a beautiful poetic rendition of the deprivations of old age!
The School of Rab was wont to say: ‘What I did not lose I seek.’That is, an old man stooped over as if perpetually looking for something.
It was taught, R. Jose b. Kisma said: Two are better than three,That is two legs are better than the additon of a walking stick!
and woe for the one thing that goes and does not return.
What is that?
Said R. Hisda: One's youth.Ha!