HILLEL , Jewish
See also:rabbi, of Babylonian origin, lived at Jerusalem in the
See also:time of
See also:King Herod- Though hard pressed by poverty, he applied himself to study in the
See also:schools of Shemaiah and Abtalion (Sameas and Pollion in
See also:Josephus) . On account of his comprehensive learning and his rare qualities he was numbered among the recognized leaders of the Pharisaic
See also:scribes . Tradition assigns him the highest dignity of the Sanhedrin, under the title of
See also:nasi ("
See also:prince "), about a
See also:hundred years before the destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. about 30 B.C . The date at least can be recognized as historic; the fact that Hillel took a leading position in the council can also be established . The epithet ha-zaken (" the elder "), which usually accompanies his name, proves him to have been a member of the Sanhedrin, and according to a trustworthy authority Hillel filled his leading position for
See also:forty years, dying, therefore, about A.D . 10 . His descendants remained, with few exceptions, at the
See also:head of Judaism in
See also:Palestine until the beginning of the 5th century, two of them, his
See also:Gamaliel I. and the latter's son
See also:Simon, during the time when the
See also:Temple was still
See also:standing . The fact that Josephus (Vita 38) ascribes to Simon descent from a very distinguished stock (ybious v¢io/pa Xaµlrpou), shows in what degree of estimation Hillel's descendants stood . When the dignity of nasi became afterwards hereditary among them, Hillel's ancestry, perhaps on the ground of old
See also:family traditions, was traced back to
See also:David . Hillel is especially noted for the fact that he gave a definite
See also:form to the Jewish traditional learning, as it had been
See also:developed and made into the ruling and conserving factor of Judaism in the latter days of the second Temple, and particularly in the centuries following the destruction of the Temple . He laid down seven rules for the
See also:interpretation of the Scriptures, and these became the foundation of rabbinical
See also:hermeneutics; and the ordering of the traditional doctrines into a whole, effected in the Mishna by his successor
See also:Judah I., two hundred years after Hillel's
See also:death, was probably likewise due to his instigation . The tendency of his theory and practice in matters pertaining to the
See also:Law is evidenced by the fact that in general he advanced milder and more lenient views in op-position to his colleague
See also:Shammai, a contrast which after the death of the two masters, but not until after the destruction of the Temple, was maintained in the strife kept up between the two schools named the
See also:House of Hillel and the House of Shammai .
The well-known institution of the Prosbol (srpocrf3oXii), introduced by Hillel, was intended to avert the evil consequences of the scriptural law of
See also:release in the seventh
See also:year (Dent. xv . 1) . He was led to this, as is expressly set forth (M . Gittin, iv . 3), by a regard for the welfare of the community . Hillel lived in the memory of posterity chiefly as the
See also:great teacher who enjoined ' and practised the virtues of charity, humility and true piety . His proverbial sayings, in particular, a great number of which were written down partly in Aramaic, partly in
See also:Hebrew, strongly affected the spirit both of his contemporaries and of the succeeding generations . In his
See also:Maxims (Aboth, i . 12) he recommends the love of peace and the love of mankind beyond all else, and his own love of peace sprang from the tenderness and deep humility which were essential features in his character, as has been illustrated by many anecdotes . Hillel's
See also:patience has become proverbial . One of his sayings commends humility in the following paradox: " My abasement is my exaltation." His charity towards men is given its finest expression in the answer which he made to a
See also:proselyte who asked to be taught the commandments of the Torah in the shortest possible form: " What is unpleasant to thyself that do not to thy neighbour; this is the whole Law, all else is but its exposition." This allusion to the scriptural
See also:injunction to love one's neighbour (Lev. xix . 18) as the fundamental law of religious morals, became in a certain sense a
See also:commonplace of Pharisaic
See also:scholasticism .
For the Pharisee who accepts the answer of Jesus regarding that fundamental
See also:doctrine which ranks the love of one's neighbour as the highest
See also:duty after the love of
See also:God (Mark xii . 33), does so because as a
See also:disciple of Hillel the idea is
See also:familiar to him . St Paul also (Gal. v . 14) doubtless learned this in the school of Gamaliel . Hillel emphasized the connexion between duty towards one's neighbour and duty towards oneself in the epigrammatic saying: " If I am not for myself, who is for me ? And if I am for myself alone, what then am I ? And if not now, then when?" (Aboth, i . 14) . The duty of working both with and for men he teaches in the
See also:sentence: "
See also:Separate not thyself from the
See also:congregation " (ib. ii . 4) . The duty of considering oneself
See also:part of comman humanity, of not differing from others by any peculiarity of behaviour, he sums up in the words: " Appear neither naked nor clothed, neither sitting nor standing, neither laughing nor weeping " (Tosef . Ber. c. ii.) .
The command to love one's neighbour inspired also Hillel's injunction (Aboth, ii . 4) : "
See also:Judge not thy neighbour until thou
See also:art in his place " (cf . Matt. vii . I) . The disinterested pursuit of learning, study for study's
See also:sake, is commended in many of Hillel's sayings as being what is best in
See also:life: " He who wishes to make a name for himself loses his name; he who does not increase [his know-ledge] decreases it; he who does not learn is worthy of death; he who
See also:works for the sake of a
See also:crown is lost " (Aboth, i . 13) . " He who occupies himself much with learning makes his life " (ib. ii . 7) . " He who has acquired the words of doctrine has acquired the life of the
See also:world to come (ib.) . " Say not: When I am
See also:free from other occupations I shall study; for may be thou shalt never at all be free " (ib . 4) . One of his strings of
See also:proverbs runs as follows: " The uncultivated man is not innocent; the ignorant man is not devout; the bashful man learns not; the wrathful man teaches not; he who is much absorbed in
See also:trade cannot become wise; where no men are, there strive thyself to be a man " (ib .
5) . The almost mystical profundity of Hillel's conciousness of God is shown in the words spoken by him on the occasion of a feast in the Temple—words alluding to the throng of
See also:people gathered there which he puts into the mouth of God Himself: " If I am here every one is here; if I am not here no one is here " (Sukkah 53a) . In like manner Hillel makes God say to
See also:Israel, referring to Exodus xx . 24: " Whither I please, thither will I go; if thou come into my house I come into thy house; if thou come not into my house, I come not into thine " (ib.) . It is noteworthy that no miraculous legends are connected with Hillel's life . A scholastic tradition, however, tells of a
See also:voice from
See also:heaven which made itself heard when the wise men had assembled in
See also:Jericho, saying: "Among those here
See also:present is one who would have deserved the
See also:Holy Spirit to
See also:rest upon him, if his time had been worthy of it." And all eyes turned towards Hillel (Tos . Sotah, xiii . 3) . When he died lamentation was made for him as follows: " Woe for the humble, woe for the pious, woe for the disciple of
See also:Ezra !
KARL HILLEBRAND (1829–1884)
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