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Fountain of Youth
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

When Professor Mordechai “Motty” Ravid was hired as the medical director of Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center (MYMC) in Bnai Brak, Israel, he knew he was in for a challenge. At age 71, Dr. Ravid was already past retirement age. Mandatory retirement may seem to be a blessing for some, but for public hospital doctors, it may be a curse. Skilled physicians are pensioned off at the peak of their careers, and patients are deprived of the caring and wisdom of an experienced and knowledgeable professional.

Dr. Ravid himself had been forced to retire from public hospitals, and his first move as the newly recruited director of MYMC was to hire retirees like himself, crack medical experts at the top of their fields who now found themselves pushed out, unwanted.

On the benefits of hiring retirees to fill important medical positions, Ravid explains, "There are many doctors who are healthy, very young in terms of physical condition and mental capabilities as well as in ambition, and they perform marvelously with a fresh enthusiasm, because one: they are helping to build something, and two: many who worked over the years to establish divisions and departments are making a new start, from zero - of course with the necessary means - and many have 'come alive' again. I've talked to many of these doctors' families and the typical response is, 'My father/husband/wife feels young again!'"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, has long decried the practice of forcing the elderly into retirement. Enforced isolation and idleness brings with it a host of physical, mental and psychological disturbances. The elderly who feel themselves no longer useful or contributing to society begin to decline. We must see our senior citizens as a resource rather than a burden. They have a wealth of knowledge, experience and skill to share and to teach.

In the days of Moshiach we will all experience a rejuvenation of both body and soul. Regarding the tzadikim, the Psalms (92:14-15) writes, “Planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of our God they will flourish. They will grow even in old age.” We can hasten the fulfillment of this promise by appreciating the value of the elderly in our midst. Furthermore, we must ensure that every moment of our lives is filled with constructive action. Every good deed that we do has the potential to bring Redemption to this world. There is no time to waste and now is not a time to retire. The world is in critical need of our talents and energies, to complete the mission of bringing the Redemption, now.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.


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