I have read and heard much of your teaching on the reasons for not retiring. I understand this for a man, however, as a woman who has worked full time in high stress employment most of my life but has never wanted anything except to be a traditional wife caring for my husband, children and home, is it wrong for me to desire retirement?
Since not everyone reading this has heard or read our teachings on retirement, we’d like to give a super-short summary of one of the main points. Our entire understanding of ethical capitalism is that people do well financially when they find ways to serve God’s other children. Money is the by-product of being successful in this service. For this reason, retirement means stopping to serve others, which makes it a bad idea. (There is no way to cover the content of two books, many articles and a number of audio CDs in a few sentences. Please look around our website if you are interested in going deeper.)
Now, to your question.
You are absolutely correct that there is a huge difference between men and women on this point. While a woman is capable of achieving great financial reward for her work, her essence is not tied into that achievement. A woman who builds a home and raises a family doesn’t need a paycheck to tell herself that she is accomplishing worthwhile and productive goals. That is not so for almost all men. Part of the definition of being a good husband and father is providing financially for one’s family. That isn’t part of the definition of being a good wife and mother even though many women in our times need to help out in that area.
We bless you to be able to retire soon and devote yourself to your family,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin