Death Begins When You Retire from Work

Michael Laitman, 2021

I am 74 years old, and thank God I work every day. I teach the wisdom of Kabbalah from three to six in the morning to my students who connect live to the lessons from time zones across the globe. Then I go out for a light walk and exercise, rest, and start the second part of the morning: meetings, interviews, TV shootings, and studies from the original Kabbalah sources.

Whoever stops working and thinks that then the good life begins is wrong. Our schedule relaxes and troubles start from the moment we wake up. One wonders how to fill the time until noon and then what to do from afternoon to evening. And even then, we begin questioning why we are doing certain things automatically. What to do tomorrow? And the day after? This state is not one of prolonging life, it is death within life. Rest becomes a part of death.

Israel is known to be among the countries with high life expectancy; our average has already crossed the age of 80. Here, as in other countries, there is an ongoing debate about whether the retirement age for men and women should be raised. This is so not only because people run out of money or want to engage in different projects, but also because, as studies show, when a person stops working, he or she becomes depressed, sinks into loneliness and begins to feel meaningless in life.

Whoever stops working and thinks that then the good life begins is wrong. Our schedule relaxes and troubles start from the moment we wake up. One wonders how to fill the time until noon and then what to do from afternoon to evening. And even then, we begin questioning why we are doing certain things automatically. What to do tomorrow? And the day after? This state is not one of prolonging life, it is death within life. Rest becomes a part of death.

Based on my own experience, I support working for at least half a day, a few hours in the morning and no more. People who retire often go through a process of deterioration and decline because we are built to function in the world until our last day, and this is felt in my body, in my own skin.

If a person has already retired, then one piece of advice from me is this: Get involved with people your age; this connection is always good. Try to stay healthy, helpful, playful, and encourage others. Don’t just sit on a bench with friends and talk; work together, clean the building where you live, wash the stairwell, cut the grass in the garden, grow vegetables and cultivate flowers. These kinds of activities might also be profitable and provide employment, but more importantly, they maintain the health of the body and the mind.

Suppose you prefer other activities than those just mentioned? Good. The main purpose is to engage in actions that contribute to the community, that are connected with taking care of the well-being of others. This advice for the golden years is a quick and rewarding way to feel filled with goodness and to pass on that feeling to others. This is the only prescription for elderly people that will fill them with the commitment to take care of themselves because they will desire more involvement and work. Being helpful to society is the way to feel young, vital, and strong.

PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.