Death in itself is not tragic for every individual must die sooner or later
The only relevant question is to what extent the individual when alive participates in eternity.
Lays of Ancient Rome is a collection of narrative poems, or lays, by Thomas Babington Macaulay. Four of these recount heroic episodes from early Roman history with strong dramatic and tragic themes, giving the collection its name. Macaulay also included two poems inspired by recent history: Ivry (1824) and The Armada (1832)
The first poem, Horatius, describes how Publius Horatius and two companions, Spurius Lartius and Titus Herminius, hold the Sublician bridge, the only span crossing the Tiber at Rome, against the Etruscan army of Lars Porsena, King of Clusium. The three heroes are willing to die in order to prevent the enemy from crossing the bridge, and sacking the otherwise ill-defended city. While the trio close with the front ranks of the Etruscans, Roman engineers hurriedly work to demolish the bridge, leaving their enemies on the far side of the swollen river.
This poem contains the often-quoted lines:
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.”
Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now, who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?
As the span becomes unstable, Horatius urges Lartius and Herminius to retreat, while he fights on alone. His companions regain the Roman side before the bridge begins to collapse, but Horatius can no longer cross to safety, and therefore leaps into the river, still fully armored. Macaulay writes,
No sound of joy or sorrow
Was heard from either bank;
But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank:
And when above the surges
They saw his crest appear,
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
He reaches the Roman shore, is richly rewarded, and gains mythic status by his act of bravery:
With weeping and with laughter
Still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old.
When we look to the world with an aspect of Judaism, we say that that the only relevant question is to what extent the individual when alive participates in Jewish eternity. We just finished Shuvout where we read the book of Ruth. Naomi and Ruth bring forth the baby from Boaz that becomes the predecessor of King David.
Jewish history is what counts from an aspect of the Torah. And for this reason, the Torah was given on Mount Sinai- a desert- because if the Torah had been given on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, it might have been thought that the non-Jews have no place in the Torah. Rav Shimon ben Elazar maintains in the future (the days of the Messiah) “everyone will return to the true religion” Let us learn from the Jewish ways, let us walk in the Jewish paths, for from Zion will go forth Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem to the entire world.
Speaking of death
A New Aliyah Pitch
A local Aliyah ambassador from the Israeli government was noticing that the response to his usual “pitch” about moving to Israel was having limited effect so he decided to change tactics.
“Instead of talking about Israel today, I am going to talk about nutrition and health.” Said the Aliyah representative. “Here is a summary of the latest medical findings:
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than do the British or Americans.
The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
My conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Move to Israel and learn to speak Hebrew. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.