Getting a new job is more than survival. Our employment speaks to dignity and self-worth. We can understand our work as holy service (avodah), the term used to describe the tasks of the priests serving in the Temple in Jerusalem. We are encouraged to find the sacred even in the most mundane tasks just as the priests cleaned ashes from the floor of the Temple. A new job, whether a stepping stone to a career or a temporary source of income, is an opportunity to perceive our lives as meaningful.
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
Jewish texts derive from an era before retirement was a fully formed notion. However, the concept appears as a directive to the Levites who served as priests in the Temple, demarcating the years of service from age 25 to 50. Yet at the age of 50 they remained in a supporting role. As we complete our service in employment perhaps of industry, government, non-profit work or educational systems, we can follow in the tradition of the Levitical texts and continue to be of service by being supportive of those who continue in roles of employment and by staying engaged in our communities.