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No, I’m not trying to give the definitive answer here (which btw is 42). When I am depressed, I very much doubt that my life has any meaning. I am not going to win the nobel price, write music like Bach, books like Goethe, or prevent the third world war or anything really important. So does my life matter?

“Limdu Heitev” (Yeshayah 1:17) – “Learn to do good” says Rashi. We do not find anywhere in the Torah that man is commanded to be a lamdan and expert in all fields of the Torah. For the goal of learning Torah is not to be a lamdan, but rather a good person; to do good and to be good to others.
(Rav Mendel of Kotzk, cited from rationalist Judaism blog)

Somehow, this is consoling. Don’t try to gain immortality by being the best [scientist|musician|polititian|writer|…] that has ever lived. Try to be a good person, be good to others. And of course, if it makes you happy, or if it makes you a better person, be the best [scientist|musician|polititian|writer|…] you can be! But your life is not wasted if you are not one of the five most important people on earth.

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