[Read] ➵ Hillel By Joseph Telushkin – Dolove.info
Hillel If Not Now, When Jewish Encounters by Joseph Telushkin 2010 This volume is the latest example of the evolution of Joseph Teluskin from a rather shallow popularizer to a profound Jewish thinker The two volumes of his planned three volume set on Jewish Ethics are also well worth reading This is a pretend biography of Hillel, in fact, we know very little about Hillel on which to base any such biography The sparcity of the source material has led to all sorts of speculations regarding what Hillel s complete views are like, some of which speculations have been very very different than Teluskin s present volume This volume is really an extended essay and declaration by Teluskin in favor of what might be called pluralistic Judaism Pluralistic Judaism is the view that there is no one absolutely indisputably view of the particulars of Jewish law, but that there are and always have been many competing views on virtually every question concerning observance Pluralistic Jews not only acknowledge that state of affairs, but consider it as essential to an understanding of the living character of Judaism which is principally centered around taking seriously such questions and debating over them Those interested in that take on Judaism may want to look into the Shalom Hartman Institute, the scholars of which have similar views This volume will have one of two fates It will be totally ignored by Jews my money is on this one or it will result in a bloody fight between fundamentalist and nonfundamentalist Jews. Hillel s wisdom has continued to be studied by Jewish people from his death to the present, and he is among the most popular Rabbis and philosophers in the Jewish canon.Rabbi Telushkin s portrait of Hillel is clear, concise, and well researched What I found especially enlightening is the way Telushkin compared and contrasted Hillel s beliefs with his conservative and traditional contemporaries This contrast highlights how liberal and progressive Rabbi Hillel s views are, and how these ideas opened the door to Judaism for both his own contemporary common readers and those of the present.Without Hillel, it s doubtful that the Jewish people would be as compassionate, as open minded to new ideas, or as welcoming to people who wish to become Jews themselves as we are in the 21st century I am grateful for his words he was a blessing to all of humanity. Excellent analysis of the House of Hillel as well as the House of Shammai, its family foil I didn t agree with all the author s conclusions concerning the similarities differences between Yeshua and Shammai, but his historical log and method of presenting those facts and sources is admirable I have used this book as a research source for my own books in the past, and will likely use it again The failure of Christian education to help New Testament readers put the dialogues and letters into historical context is remedied by sources such as Rabbi Telushkin s If students of the Christian Bible understood the dynamics presented in Hillel, it could help them decode The Pharisees dialogues in the Gospels and attribute statements and attitudes to the proper House A most pleasant surprise to Christian readers would be how many of the Pharisees from the House of Hillel welcomed a non Jew to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Additionally, Christian readers would have a new context for Pharisees, one that did not include words like outward observance, hypocrisy, self righteous, or pretentious Just as denominations would hate to be judged as a whole by the worst examples of the faith, Judaism should be evaluated according to the facts instead of lazy theology. A friend who grew up in and is active as an adult in a Conservative Temple really loved this book and I think it may resonate strongly with people who share his background A major theme of the book is that the Jewish religious community should be liberal in welcoming potential converts My personal experience as a convert to Judaism Reform felt like the experience that Teluskin advocates so I didn t feel compelled by his argument that radical change from current attitudes back to the philosophy of Hillel is needed.Of interest to me were two commentaries why Hille s reply to the potential convert was stated in the negative do not do onto others.rather than the positive do onto others easier to commit to consistent with the approach of the 10 commandments and the three core differences between Christian and Jewish theology God can forgive all sins vs God forgives sins against God, you must seek forgiveness from the person for sins agains them meet evil with pacifism by turning the other cheek vs meet evil with resistance as in Moses killing the foreman who abused the slave know God only through Jesus vs any person can know God directly. Telushkin s writing is clear and concise, easy to read without being simplistic I love the chance to learn about my favorite figure in Jewish history There are points which may find disfavor among the legalistic or exclusive of thought, but Hillel s inclusive and loving approach to faith speaks to the heart of what is beautiful in Judaism. I was totally unfamiliar with Telushkin before reading this book, but apparently he s generally a sort of pop theology type writer There are some elements of that here the book is not technical at all , but this book is not lazy pop theology Telushkin knows his shit and cites everything It can get repetitive at times he makes his point about conversion over and over again , but it covers a lot of ground He makes a strong argument for ethics being the defining characteristic of religiosity, rather than ritual observance Highly recommended. In general, I enjoyed reading this book For one, I must admit that my knowledge of the Jewish context of the New Testament, even when I do not consider writers like this one to be very knowledgeable and accurate when writing about the New Testament because they take their ideas about Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul from mainstream Christianity, which itself does not understand the relationship between Christianity and the law Likewise, I appreciate this book in large part because it does not make the subject matter of the book or the author appear to be entirely sympathetic We see the author seeking to use the stories and examples of Hillel in order to promote a certain understanding of evangelism and Jewish identity in light of the demographic fears the author has about the decline of acceptance of Judaism and identification as Jewish among many people who could see themselves as such This motive is so honestly admitted and so transparently viewed, though, that it is impossible to think badly of the author for seeking to use the past, especially the underappreciated past, as a way for the Jewish community to strengthen itself in the present day.This short volume of just a bit than 200 pages consists of eighteen chapters in four parts along with three additional appendices The author begins with six chapters that discuss some of the unique teachings of Hillel I , including his role as a particularly ardent student 1 , his rise to leadership 2 , his belief that at least a fundamental aspect of Judaism could be explained by standing on one foot 3 , his relationship with three converts 4 , his view of repairing the world through ethical conduct 5 , and five traits of his that the author finds useful for contemporary Judaism 6 After that there are five chapters that examine the contrast between Hillel and Shammai, the Talmud s most famous adversaries II , including chapters about their different approaches in interpretation as opposed to literalism I favor the latter, generally 7 , issues of thieves, brides, and lying as a virtue 8 , issues regarding women 9 , Shammai beyond the stereotype 10 , and the discussion of the two Torahs 11 There is one chapter that discusses the relationship between Jesus and Hillel III, 12 that points to issues of interaction with Christianity, before the author closes with six chapters that look at lessons from the first century that apply to the contemporary situation of American Judaism IV , including the need for outreach to others 13 , the need for teachers to be patient 14 , the need for students to question while they learn 15 , the need to devote time to study even if one is busy 16 , passionate moderation 17 , and final thoughts about why we need Hillel than ever now 18 After this there are three appendices on additional teachings of Hillel i , seven rules of Torah interpretation ii , and Hillel s teachings in the Ethics of the Fathers iii.Admittedly, I do not agree with everything in this book In particular, I find the author following Hillel, it must be admitted made some terrible logic in assuming that because the written Bible includes obvious unwritten material as part of its context that the Oral Torah held to by the Pharisees and their successors, including the author, is correct There is a leap here that deserves to be contested concerning the authority of the scribes and Pharisees and Orthodox rabbis in contradicting scripture through their human traditions and in disregarding the authorities that God had set over them, as well as disregarding the authority of God when He Himself came as a man to rebuke and correct them in the person of Jesus of Nazareth Likely, an examination of these issues is likely not to be harmonious and easy, but it does suggest that the approach of the author in praising Hillel shows a certain blind spot to questions of transmission of tradition in the Talmud that, like the analogous issue in Islam concerning Hadiths 1 , deserves to be questioned and dealt with openly 1 See, for example Part Of The Jewish Encounter SeriesWhat Is Hateful Unto You, Do Not Do Unto Your Neighbor That Is The Whole Torah, All The Rest Is Commentary Now, Go And StudyThis Is The Most Famous Teaching Of Hillel, One Of The Greatest Rabbis Of The Talmudic Era What Makes It So Extraordinary Is That It Was Offered To A Gentile Seeking Conversion Joseph Telushkin Feels That This Talmudic Story Has Great Relevance For Us Today At A Time When Religiosity Is Equated With Ritual Observance Alone, When Few Jews Seem Concerned With Bringing Jewish Teachings Into The World, And When Than Percent Of Jews Intermarry, Judaism Is In Need Of Of The Openness That Hillel Possessed Two Thousand Years AgoHillel S Teachings, Stories, And Legal Rulings Can Be Found Throughout The Talmud Many Of Them Share His Emphasis On Ethical And Moral Living As An Essential Element In Jewish Religious Practice, Including His Citing The Concept Of Tikkun Olamrepairing The World As A Basis For Modifying Jewish Law Perhaps The Most Prominent Rabbi And Teacher In The Land Of Israel During The Reign Of Herod, Hillel May Well Have Influenced Jesus, His Junior By Several Decades In A Provocative Analysis Of Both Judaism And Christianity, Telushkin Reveals Why Hillel S Teachings About Ethics As God S Central Demand And His Willingness To Encourage The Process Of Conversion Began To Be Ignored In Favor Of The Stricter And Less Inclusive Teachings Of His Rabbinic Adversary, ShammaiHere Is A Bold New Look At An Iconic Religious Leader I was interested in reading this book because 1 I knew nothing of the relationship between Hillel and Shammai and 2 what religious teachings by Hillel influenced Jesus teachings The School of Shammai It is difficult to comprehend the structure of the theocratic government of Israel in the time of Christ But the most important group in Israel was the Pharisees who sat under the teachings of a rabbi named Shammai, who founded his school shortly before Jesus was born Most believed, among other things, that the Hebrew descendants of Abraham were the only people beloved of God, and that no other people were of value in His sight Salvation was thus only available to Jews and so, in their early days, the Shammaiites wouldn t even welcome Gentile converts to Judaism The school of Shammai, which was politically proactive, also had close ties to the infamous zealots, a group of fanatics who favored armed revolt against Rome It s critical to note that virtually every time you see Jesus or the apostles in strife against what the Bible labels as Pharisees, it is almost certainly referring to Pharisees or ex Pharisees from the School of Shammai Even before he became a Christian, Paul would have had many differences with his fellow Pharisees from this school, which would be the dominant influence in Judaism until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD The School of Hillel The school of Hillel was far liberal, and its founder was renowned for placing people and justice at the heart of Judaism, whereas Shammai stressed strict observance of religious laws While Hillel s followers acknowledged that the Jews were God s special people, they willingly accepted Gentile converts to Judaism in the belief that the God of Abraham allowed all to worship Him who would turn from idolatry When you read about Hellenistic Jews or about Jews with Greek names , this was the school whose rabbis would typically have accepted these Gentiles into the Jewish faith Soon after the time when Jesus, at age 12, was in the Temple astonishing the priests with his wisdom, Hillel died and was eventually succeeded by his grandson Gamaliel, who was Paul s tutor Modern day Judaism traces its roots to the teachings promoted by the followers of Hillel who survived the destruction of Jerusalem and began codifying their teachings around 200 AD Hillel was so wise that even two sayings we commonly attribute to Jesus were supposedly coined by Hillel before his death, and were being quoted by Jesus in the Gospels These were the Golden Rule, along with the summary of the Law and the prophets Love God with all of your heart , and love your neighbor as yourself Whenever you see Jesus interacting positively with the Pharisees Nicodemus or the rich young ruler , he is probably interacting with Pharisees from the school of Hillel.An example of the differences between Hillel and Shammai can be seen in the many cases where the Pharisees watch Jesus to see if He will heal someone on the Sabbath We can reasonably surmise that these are Shammaiites by the fact that the school of Shammai viewed attending to a sick person on the Sabbath as work, while the school of Hillel viewed this as a good deed that was permissible on the Sabbath Another example of the struggle over Jesus between both schools is seen in John 9 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees probably from the school of Shammai This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day Others probably from the school of Hillel said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles And there was a division among them Difference betwn error sin A sin is a wrongful act that one knows is wrongful at the time of its commission An error is a wrongful act that is committed at a time when the person does not know or has not yet realized that such an act should not be committed.This distinction is important in understanding how men came to know the Law, and how they treated others who were yet unenlightened 1 Moses was the first to come to discover the Law he learned the hard way through error Moses first important error was smiting an Egyptian who was beating a Jew Moses act of vengeance was driven by his passion anger he met violence with an even greater act of violence Moses second important error was striking the rock when God had commanded him to speak to it Should call this one a sin because Moses knew he was acting wrongfully The choice of speaking asking versus striking coercing appeared to be unimportant, because it led to the same outcome the rock gave water What Moses had not considered was the rock s point of view By striking the rock, Moses forced it to give water Had he spoken to it, he would have created an opportunity for the rock to do a Mitzvah, a good deed Moses error was in depriving the rock of an opportunity to choose to be helpful 2 Hillel discovered the fundamental rule of human conduct That which is hateful to you do not unto your fellow man Hillel understood why adherence to this rule would lead to social stability, but Hillel probably did not know what action to take when the law was being violated in an important way In other words, Hillel stated the conditions that had to be met for mankind to live in peace but he did not have a plan for bringing the nonconforming members of society into compliance 3 Jesus was the first man to solve the problem of what to do when Hillel s Law was being violated He publicized the acts that caused one man to hurt another, and he made clear that the victim himself included was being hurt However, he scrupulously avoided the act of vengeance, and he taught his disciples to do the same turn the other cheek Jesus, using Hillel s Law as a guide, and introducing the use of nonviolence as a tool to effect social change Jesus restated Hillel s Law from the negative form Do not do unto another that which you would not want done to you to the positive form Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.This is just a small part of this biography. Easy to read and follow even for non JewsThe book is not specifically written either for Jews or Gentiles As a non Jew myself, this is the first time I ve read a book on Judaism Neither do I have any Jewish friends as I live in Asia I have heard of Hillel though, particularly the anecdote about summarizing the Torah And that is what attracted me initially to read this book It goes to explain the anecdote in detail and gave me a better understanding of Hillel s teachings far beyond the anecdote Many of things, I find, can be applied to my life as a non religious person.