Once most of one’s years have passed and one reaches the age of forty, it is proper to remember one’s end. For man is destined to go to his world, and every day his time diminishes. So, if the person will not remember his Creator in the days of his youth, and he “continues waywardly in the path of his heart” (based on Yeshayah 57:17), being drawn to the pleasures and empty pastimes of this world — then it is time to have mercy on one’s soul and on the glory of his Maker and repent from his evil way, and instead embark upon the path of the good and upright. He should say to himself: “Woe to me! The “day” has passed, and the shadows of evening are getting longer. Let me return to my Creator before the days of evil come; days that will be of no use to me, for I will not be able to do anything; there will be no merit, no de-merit and no repentance.
Yet, in the evil ways of men on earth, when someone grows old and it is no longer appropriate to sit with younger people, they sit with elderly people like themselves and they talk about everything under the sun. On long nights they discuss the weather and the crops, the cities and politics — fairly any topic — and they thus pass the time in prattle. They puff out the smoke of their cigars and they drink coffee. It seems to them that this is the best and most fitting thing for them to do. But they do not realize that this is not the way, and that when one talks too much, sin is inevitable. Woe to people because of the shame of the Torah that they cause.
Only this is the straight path for a person to chose, especially when one reaches old age: He should remind himself about the day of death. He should say this to himself: “Behold! I have grown old, I do not know the day I will die. Let me repent today lest I die tomorrow.” He should attach himself to scholars and sefarim that teach man wisdom. He should keep his eyes open to examine all his affairs. Let him not lose any precious time when he is idle, for the day is short and the work is much. There is so much that needs to be done that it is hard to know what one should turn to first. Should he try fixing what he failed in his youth or should he complete his duties that are appropriate now? Therefore, he should do all that is in his power to do — correcting the past, learning Torah, doing mitzvos and good deeds — continuing until he removes himself from all the vanities of this world and acts with piety. Perhaps he will be able to say: “Fortunate is my old age, for it atoned for my youth.”