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    Wine, women & song

    what-really-matters-in-lifeIt’s not just a question for Yom Kippur but for every day: What really matters in life.

    That’s the question, there’s the rub, to borrow two phrases from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

    What matters in life concerned the Greeks, because they were thinkers. It concerned the rabbis, because they were believers.

    The Greeks had a range of ideas – wine, women and song; wealth, food and drink; honour, status and victory. They also valued music, literature, logic and drama.

    The rabbis’ view was summed up in the Jerusalem Talmud (Makkot 31d) in the form of a question about sin.

    They asked Wisdom and were told “evil” – i.e. suffering; they asked Prophecy, and they got the answer, “Death”; they asked Torah, and Torah said, “Bring a sacrifice”. Then they asked God, and God said, “Repent”.

    The words placed in God’s mouth basically meant, “What happens if you sin is up to you. You can overcome a sin so long as you choose to move on.”

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