Which commandment appears in the Portion even before the commandment of Shabbat? Doing work. “Six days shall work be done”, it says in the Portion, and only then – “but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day”.
Rabbi Shneur Ashkenazi of Rishon LeZion explains how working and being active are important in our lives, at any age:
“In the six weekdays we must develop the world and ourselves. There is a lively discussion in the world as to when one should retire: should there be a specific, fixed age for everyone, or should it be determined by each worker’s level of functioning? But Halachah directs us to a situation in which there is no retirement from work at all, because one never ends his job in this world; one only moves to a different role. The Levites (members of the tribe of Levi), for example, who carried the heavy weight of the Mishkan in the desert, retired at the age of 50, but then immediately moved to a different role, one that is physically easier, and at the same time also started consulting and training young Levites. Our Sages of Blessed Memory emphasize that one should not sit idly. No one is ‘redundant’, never. One always has to find a mission that is suitable for one’s age and one’s situation in life, or some kind of volunteering in which one can contribute of one’s experience and talents. Six days shall work be done.”