1. Joined
    03 Feb '07
    Moves
    139406
    12 Jun '11 22:50
    It appears that the struggle between theological liberalism and fundamentalism is exemplified within Judaism in the intellectual conflict between these two Jewish philosophers/theologians. The following comes from Judaism 101, linked below. Does anyone side with Shammai in this particular instance (or is Shammai's view skewed through this pro-Hillel interpretation?

    "Hillel and Shammai

    These two great scholars born a generation or two before the beginning of the Common Era are usually discussed together and contrasted with each other, because they were contemporaries and the leaders of two opposing schools of thought (known as "houses"😉. The Talmud records over 300 differences of opinion between Beit Hillel (the House of Hillel) and Beit Shammai (the House of Shammai). In almost every one of these disputes, Hillel's view prevailed.

    Rabbi Hillel was born to a wealthy family in Babylonia, but came to Jerusalem without the financial support of his family and supported himself as a woodcutter. It is said that he lived in such great poverty that he was sometimes unable to pay the admission fee to study Torah, and because of him that fee was abolished. He was known for his kindness, his gentleness, and his concern for humanity. One of his most famous sayings, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishnah), is "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" The Hillel organization, a network of Jewish college student organizations, is named for him.

    Rabbi Shammai was an engineer, known for the strictness of his views. The Talmud tells that a gentile came to Shammai saying that he would convert to Judaism if Shammai could teach him the whole Torah in the time that he could stand on one foot. Shammai drove him away with a builder's measuring stick! Hillel, on the other hand, converted the gentile by telling him, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it." "

    http://www.jewfaq.org/sages.htm
  2. Joined
    03 Feb '07
    Moves
    139406
    13 Jun '11 17:48
    Somebody on another forum pointed out that Wikipedia has a very good posting on the subject.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_and_Shammai
  3. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    13 Jun '11 22:11
    Oh, wow—I was so deeply into this stuff a couple years ago. There is a Talmudic saying somewhere (I get a chance I’ll look for it) that goes something like: “The words of these and the words of those [the schools of Hillel and Shammai] are the words of the living God—but follow Hillel!” Which, of course, is a clear example of the Judaism that aknowledges its whole heritage—“the good, the bad and the ugly”, without needing to defend or to affirm the “bad and the ugly”: a notion that often seems to escape Christian treatment of the (written) Torah. The whole midrashic (small “m” ) project is anti-fundamentalist. Of course, as you point out, Judaism has not been free of fundamentalism either—even with application of the Oral Torah, which, for non-dogmatists/non-fundamentalists is a continuing engagement, not something settled.

    Something I posted some time back on this:

    ___________________________________________________________

    I cannot speak for all of Judaism; I’m not sure anyone can. I can speak for part of it, based on my own studies as part of my own (still nondualist!) spiritual venture.


    Judaism is fundamentally, on one level, a hermeneutical religion, as opposed to more doctrinal religions (so said the President of the Jewish Theological Seminary, anyhow). The rabbis weave stories from the stories in the written Torah. They do so creatively and innovatively. That is what midrash is, simply put.


    My favorite story to illustrate this (and one which I repeat often) is told by Rami Shapiro, in one of his books, Hasidic Tales. Shapiro is a Reconstructionist rabbi, but I believe that the “Reb Reuven” in the story was Orthodox—



    One Shabbos afternoon, Reb Reuven called me into his study. He was sitting behind his desk and motioned me to take the chair across from him. A volume of the Zohar was lying open in front of him.


    “Do you know what the Zohar is?” he asked.


    “Of course,” I said. “It is a mystical commentary on Torah written by Moshe deLeon, a thirteenth century Spanish kabbalist who....”


    “Nonsense!” he yelled at me, half rising out of his chair. “The Zohar isn’t just a commentary; it’s a Torah all by itself. It is a new Torah, a new telling of the last Torah. You do know what Torah is, don’t you?”


    Suspecting that I didn’t, and afraid to invoke his wrath a second time, I waited silently, certain that he would answer his own question. I was not disappointed.


    “Torah is story. God is story. Israel is story. You, my university-educated soon-to-be a liberal pain in the ass rabbi, are a story. We are all stories! We are all Torahs!...Listen, Rami,” Reuven said in a softer voice. “Torah starts with the word b’reisheet,* ‘Once upon a time!’”


    * Conventionally translated as “in the beginning” or “with beginning” or “when God began…”.
  4. Joined
    03 Feb '07
    Moves
    139406
    14 Jun '11 00:09
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Oh, wow—I was so deeply into this stuff a couple years ago. There is a Talmudic saying somewhere (I get a chance I’ll look for it) that goes something like: “The words of these and the words of those [the schools of Hillel and Shammai] are the words of the living God—but follow Hillel!” Which, of course, is a clear example of the Judaism that aknowledges ...[text shortened]...


    * Conventionally translated as “in the beginning” or “with beginning” or “when God began…”.
    Your explanation hits home. It's why fundamentalist Christians freak out when historical evidence pops up which contradicts their interpretations of scripture, but even the hardcore Rabbis shrug their shoulders. "It's a story."

    The truth of the story is not the literal truth necessarily. What does the story tell you about your relationship to God? That is their focus.

    It's not moral relativism.

    I'm not Jewish. But I find the faith fascinating.
  5. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    14 Jun '11 00:34
    Originally posted by Kunsoo
    Your explanation hits home. It's why fundamentalist Christians freak out when historical evidence pops up which contradicts their interpretations of scripture, but even the hardcore Rabbis shrug their shoulders. "It's a story."

    The truth of the story is not the literal truth necessarily. What does the story tell you about your relationship to God? That ...[text shortened]... ocus.

    It's not moral relativism.

    I'm not Jewish. But I find the faith fascinating.
    I started studying a few years ago when I discovered that I had some Jewish ancestry that had been kept hidden. I am basically a non-dualist (and non-exclusivist) who finds that expression across religious philosophies (and the non-dualist stream is particularly deep and ancient in Judaism, and is not considered to be non-orthodox).

    Anyway, I was glad to see this thread. Thanks.
  6. Joined
    03 Feb '07
    Moves
    139406
    14 Jun '11 03:37
    Originally posted by vistesd
    I started studying a few years ago when I discovered that I had some Jewish ancestry that had been kept hidden. I am basically a non-dualist (and non-exclusivist) who finds that expression across religious philosophies (and the non-dualist stream is particularly deep and ancient in Judaism, and is not considered to be non-orthodox).

    Anyway, I was glad to see this thread. Thanks.
    It's a bit obscure for those not versed in Jewish history and theology. But the tension between the two schools can be found in any belief system.
  7. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    14 Jun '11 03:39
    Originally posted by Kunsoo
    It's a bit obscure for those not versed in Jewish history and theology. But the tension between the two schools can be found in any belief system.
    Agreed.
  8. Standard memberRJHinds
    The Near Genius
    Fort Gordon
    Joined
    24 Jan '11
    Moves
    12694
    14 Jun '11 04:15
    Originally posted by Kunsoo
    It appears that the struggle between theological liberalism and fundamentalism is exemplified within Judaism in the intellectual conflict between these two Jewish philosophers/theologians. The following comes from Judaism 101, linked below. Does anyone side with Shammai in this particular instance (or is Shammai's view skewed through this pro-Hillel interpr ...[text shortened]... Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it." "

    http://www.jewfaq.org/sages.htm
    Are you sure that was not Jesus talking to the gentile?
    It sounds just lke something he would say.
  9. Joined
    03 Feb '07
    Moves
    139406
    14 Jun '11 17:45
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    Are you sure that was not Jesus talking to the gentile?
    It sounds just lke something he would say.
    There are some similar Gospel quotes. I seem to remember something about the "Greatest Commandments" being love God and love others.
Back to Top