E41: What Happens when Rabbi Lapin Crushes Retirement Myths

In this episode, we’re joined once again by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. He enlightens us on the biggest retirement myths, the biblical implications, and what leaving a legacy really means.

Retirement Myths and Legacy Topics Discussed:

  • Does the bible mention retirement
  • Why there isn’t a Hebrew word for retirement
  • The retirement myth and misfocus
  • Re-engineering your career to find enthusiasm for what you do
  • Is Rabbi Lapin against volunteering
  • Finding balance by living in the past, present, and future
  • What leaving a legacy really means
  • Planning for your children’s children’s future
  • Leaving your Legacy in trusted hands

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Episode Takeways:

Podcast transcript for episode 41: Rabbi Lapin Crushes Retirement Myths

Holly: Welcome to Dollars and Nonsense, if you follow the heard you will be slaughtered. We are welcoming back Rabbi Daniel Lapin and we closed our last session kind of hitting on retirement. And what we’d like to really do this session and what we have you listening, is retirement actually something you should be looking forward to? So, without further ado, I’m going to turn it over to Rabbi Lapin. Is retirement even biblically in the Bible?

Rabbi Lapin: For those people for whom the Bible is central and real, it’s significant to note that it’s not mentioned. There is no word for it even in the Hebrew language, it just doesn’t exist. And the reason is because it’s negative. People’s lives do not improve when they retire. You know what this is a little bit like, and again this is something that is counterintuitive but it’s easy to find out the truth, which is that when people win the lottery, almost always their lives deteriorate. This is shocking because you would have thought that when a person suddenly finds, as a person who’s maybe made 60,000 or 80,000 or 200,000 a year suddenly finds that they got a $100 million, you’d have thought that this would be the best life you ever could imagine, that their lives would just blossom.

In fact, every single story, after story, after story shows deterioration. Reason? Because they stopped serving other people. The deep-seated joy in life comes from serving other people. Whether it’s initially your spouse, whether it is later on your children, but a whole lot of what … And again, going to a religious source for this information, even though not everybody will find the source interesting, but the religious source is that in ancient Jewish wisdom, the whole idea of marriage and the whole idea of sexual pleasure is to teach us that the process of bringing a new life into the world is essentially wrapped up with pleasure.

The idea of caring for somebody else and making somebody else’s needs the center of your life actually is the source of deep pleasure. Counterintuitive. You would have thought that a single person who has no responsibilities in life would be happiest, but if there was so, nobody would be trying to get married. The source of the deepest human pleasure is caring about another human being. And then it goes from there to customers and clients and we discover that a deep joy suffuses our beings from taking care of other people. When you win the lottery, it’s like an overnight retirement.

Almost nobody keeps their jobs. People when they’re told they’re winning the lottery, everyone’s, well, are you going to go to work tomorrow? And everyone says, yes, nothing’s going to change. But the evidence has shown that they lie, that’s simply not the case. They may believe it at the moment and I’m Not sure I would be different. I’m a normal human being like everybody else. Somebody drops an imaginable wealth in my pocket, do I still go to work tomorrow? I’m not sure I do. And I’ll be the worst for it. And that’s really what retirement is about.

We all should be focused on wanting a legacy for our family, for our children. The crazy thing is that the more focused you are on preparing for retirement, the less capable you are of preparing a legacy for your family. So, in general, it is unhealthy, it’s unproductive, it’s counterintuitive. We understand that just as you’d like to win the lottery, you’d like to retire, the truth is, you really wouldn’t.

Nate: There’s plenty of people out here who are longing for that day that they can retire because they dislike their job potentially, they dislike the career that they’re in. And I’ve heard you maybe on your podcast mentioned this thing a few times, but how would you help that individual who is just not finding any joy in their work or maybe they’re thinking that their work is not, as I’ve heard you put it, is not wholly at all? If your main reason for working is retirement, why is that so detrimental and how can we give advice to someone who’s sitting there thinking, man I just don’t want to go into work because I dislike it so much.

Rabbi Lapin: Well, again, I’ve dealt with this many, many times with a lot of different individuals and a lot of different companies. The first step is to find out whether the dislike they have of their present career is endemic or curable. In other words, if I teach you how to look at your work, if I can give you exercises to do, if I can walk you through a three-month process, at the end of it, are you going to have a newfound enthusiasm for your professional life? If the answer is yes, then we need to get onto that right away.

In about 30% of the cases, about a third of the cases, that is not possible. It’s just a bad match, something’s happened to indelibly tarnish the workplace, whatever it is, it’s not possible. In that case, start a new career. That’s all. Start a new career.

Nate: So, really you’re saying, if we find ourselves in a position where we really are not satisfied or finding any enjoyment or fulfillment doing what we’re doing, don’t be afraid to change, life’s too short to remain miserable.

Rabbi Lapin: Yes. Either enlist the help of an expert who’s going to help you re-examine your life. The things you can do both to change your attitude and also to change your working environment. It’s amazingly easy to go to your employer, to go to your associates and say look, I want to re-engineer our relationship, I want a re-engineer the job, I want to re-engineer the parameters of my work, here’s what I recommend, here’s how I think it can work. And very often they’ll respond and say, well, yeah there’s a problem here you haven’t thought of, can we work on that. But at the end of the day, it’s possible to arrive at a re- engineered career that is very fulfilling. But in about a third of the cases, that’s problem just not possible and in that case, change.

Now, I’m not a big enthusiast of encouraging people to volunteer. Our terrible Rabbi Daniel Lapin talks against volunteering. There’s always going to be enough people to volunteer. People out there volunteering. I’m talking to you. You would do better finding another occupation which you are paid. Because on a deep level your soul recognizes that money is the way you prove that you are really being useful.

Holly: I would say some people would even say self-worth is based on whether you’re being paid, but I think really deep in our soul, there is a innate sense to say, I need to contribute, I need to do something.

Rabbi Lapin: Well, there’s no question about it that a part of our life always involves giving and contributing, there’s no question about it. But the part of our life that involves work, our professional career, that works best when it is in exchange for money. Because it is money that proves that you really are being useful.

Holly: And I want to go back and touch a little bit too on what you said right before this. You were talking about the fact of retirement actually is detrimental to legacy. Will you expand a little bit more on the fact of how retirement can be detrimental to leaving a legacy and then maybe we can discuss if we have time the importance of actually leaving a legacy and what that means.

Rabbi Lapin: Here’s the interesting thing. In the Rhodes language, the Hebrew word for God is actually made up of the three tenses. It’s a combination of the three verbs, was, will be and is. Which makes sense because one of the qualities of the Lord is eternalism. There’s absolutely no difference between the God that Abraham worshiped and the God that I worshiped even though thousands of years have gone by. And what this helps us relate to is that in the final analysis, ultimately human satisfaction comes from living not just in the present but in the past and the future as well.

Living in the present is essentially a hedonistic lifestyle. It’s where you say, I absolutely do not care about past generations, I don’t care about values that have stood the test of time for eons and I also don’t care about the future. And that’s one of the reasons why essentially people who are into the present do not have children, because children are a bridge to an eternal future. And so if you’re a hedonist focused only on the present, then you really ignore the past, you ignore the future. But somebody with a full and complete relationship with God and a spiritual reality is somebody who is as tied to the past as he is to the future, as he is to the present. Legacy is one of the ways of living forever.

Now, why is it important? Because it totally changes how I live today. If I have an eternal future, then I live entirely differently today as well. Please let me give you an example of what I mean. Imagine somebody, God forbid, goes to the doctor and gets told, you got 24 hours to live. And this is an absolutely reliable diagnosis, the prognostication is not subject to second opinions or doubt, let’s just say somebody knows beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s got another 24 hours to live. What will a lot of people do with that 24 hours? A lot of people might say, well, I’m going to eat, drink and be merry. I’m going to enjoy all the pleasures of life that I haven’t fully engaged in. So at least I’ll go out knowing that I’ve tasted everything.

Nate: The idea of the bucket list.

Rabbi Lapin: Yeah, right. That’s what they even call it, the bucket list, right. Somebody else might say, I’ve got a grudge list of about 20 people who I really, really have been holding a grudge against, I’m going to go and kill them. Why shouldn’t I? At least not go out with a great satisfaction knowing that I even the ledger, I paid them back. Because what’s anybody going to do? There is almost nothing creative and positive that anybody’s going to do upon discovering they’ve got 24 hours left. Somebody who’s told he’s got 24 hours left doesn’t decide to get married and have a baby. Somebody who’s told he’s got 24 hours does not try and start a foundation to feed the hungry, doesn’t do anything like that.

But now let’s look at the other extreme. The other extreme is somebody is told he’s got this weird disease and he’s going to stay at his current age for the next 400 years. Now, what does he do? He says, “Wow, this is wonderful.” Very few people get a chance to see the long-term fruits of their efforts. It can sometimes take 40, 50 years to build up a huge successful business, and so I’m going to start doing that. Somebody else might say, I’ve always wanted to build my own home but it takes many years. I literally want to brick lay myself, I want to learn how to do the carpentry myself. Nobody who’s got 24 hours to live does it, but somebody who’s got 400 years to live does do that.

Somebody who says I got 400 years says, you know what, I’m going to get married and have children. I’m going to encourage my children to have children. How cool would it be to meet my own great- grandchildren? In other words, if you thought you’re going to live for a very, very, very long time, you do all kinds of wonderful things. If you think you’re going to live for a very, very short time, nothing matters. There are no real consequences to anything. And the beauty of legacy is realizing that if you handle things right, if how to build your legacy with your family, with your extended family, with other organizations you’ve benefited, with other individuals into whose life you’ve brought blessing, you know how to do all these things. It’s almost the same as living forever.

Nate: Well that’s very beautiful. I couldn’t imagine the thought process but I’ve heard that saying and I probably butcher it whereas, plan is if you’re going to live forever but live is if you’re going to die today, type of mentality. Where we do plan the legacy if not only for one generation but in Proverbs it even mentions that we’re supposed to plan a legacy for our children’s children, our second generation and ongoing. I was just curious if you could expound on that element and how ancient Jewish wisdom has really shined a light on not just thinking of yourself, not just thinking of your kids but thinking of your children’s children and beyond.

Rabbi Lapin: Sure. Absolutely. It’s almost inevitable. In other words, one of the things that fascinated me … And I’m going to mention Henry Ford, but it doesn’t have to be him, it can be so many other. I mean, I could literally if I thought about it for a few minutes, I could draw up a list of 100 people who started foundations. Basically, people who set up legacies, financial legacy, they wanted these foundations to take care of certain causes that were dear to their hearts. And what do they all do? Almost without exception, they hand over the management of these foundations to non-related professional actors.

Other people, people they don’t know. Whereas, if they really trusted their legacy … By the way, I know and understand that there are certain legal requirements for a foundation from a tax perspective, but it can all be still worked out properly. The bottom line is and I would say this to Henry Ford and I would say this to the MacArthur’s and I would say it to the Bill and Melinda Gates, I’d say to everybody although they’re currently still a bit of an exception. I’d say if you really trusted your children, you wouldn’t hire strangers to give away your money and that’s really the key.

How do you raise your family so that you can really trust them to fulfill the wishes that are part of what you bequeathed to them, and that’s the crucial thing. And so, yes, of course it’s multi-generational, there’s no question about it. And whether or not you’ll live to see your grandchildren or you’ll live to see your great-grandchildren or you live to see your great-great-grandchildren, how wonderful it would be to know that they will still say this is what grandma used to say, this is what great-great-grandpa used to teach. But you do that by investing spiritual energy, by investing time with your family. And not just doing things together like going on trips, all of that is lovely but actual official time together spent on conveying values because that’s part of what you want to bequeath. It’s part of a living legacy.

Nate: I’m finding myself writing notes myself knowing that I can go back and reread the podcast. But no, that’s been great. Thank you so much Rabbi Lapin and-

Holly: I’m kind of speechless right now.

Rabbi Lapin: You’re most welcome. Let me give you a special discount code for your listeners to use on our website, okay?

Nate: Absolutely.

Rabbi Lapin: There’s a product on our website called The Income Abundance Set. And much of what we’ve been talking about comes out of that but obviously there’s a whole lot more than we’ve had time to cover. Any people who are part of your audience can enter the coupon code, livingwealth.

Nate: All one word, lowercase and everything.

Rabbi Lapin: Yep, just one word, livingwealth@rabbidaniellapin.com. Whenever they order an Income Abundance Set that will knock off a 15%.

Nate: Thank you very much. We here at Living Wealth for the rest of you still on the call here, I’ve read almost everything he’s published, listened almost everything he’s published. Everything is amazing and I can’t stress enough how valuable you’ll find his Income Abundant Set. We’ve gotten two podcast with him but that’s just literally the tip of the iceberg for some of the insights we’ve gained and it really helped us improve our lives, improve our mentalities. Just like we were talking here with improving your mentality on work, how fulfilling it can be, how retirement can affect your life today if we focus on it and the goal of leaving a legacy. All these things that he can help you see more clearly, it’s been amazing. So thank you for that Rabbi Lapin.

Holly: And I just want to say thank you so much. I’m going to second what Nate said. Every time I hear or find out he’s going to release the new book or series, I want to be first in line to get it because not just the insight and wisdom but truly the way he cares and takes care of the people around him is amazing. And you see how you actually can be life-giving to the people around you and your friends and have true friendship. And I love going to work, I loved it before but it gave me a new sense of purpose. So, I’m going to say if you have the opportunity, you need to at least grab that Income Abundance Set because I think it will transform and change many of your lives whether you realize it or not today. So thank you so much.

Rabbi Lapin: Well, you know how I feel about Living Wealth and the incredible goodness you bring into people’s lives and the enormous value you add two people is something that I’m so excited to be a part of even if only through this show.

Holly: Thank you so much. This has been Dollars and Nonsense, if you follow the heard you will be slaughtered. For free transcripts and resources, please visit livingwealth.com/e41.