Wednesday, 29 November 2017

New RBH shiur on Koshertube on YouTube: Why Quote Shammai Before Hillel

The gemara in Eruvin praises Beit Hillel for consistently presenting the opinion of Beit Shammai even before presenting their own view on the subject. This indicates a significant value in presenting an opposing position even before presenting your own. It is more than a matter and lesson in respect; it positively impacts on one's own opinion.

In his latest Koshertube shiur, Nishma's Rabbi Hecht expands upon this idea. We invite you to view Why Quote Shammai Before Hillel at

1 comment:

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

During the shiur, 2 issues came up which I chose not to address as I felt that they would pull me away from the point which I wanted to make. They were (1) the concept that Beit Shammai reflected the middah of din and Beit Hillel reflected the middah of chesed and (2) the idea that in the time of Mashiach, we will follow Beit Shammai. Both of these topics demand their own substantive investigation which, i felt, would be outside the parameters of the shiur.

Upon reflection, though, a recognition of these two thoughts could actually have further advanced the point I was trying to make. This would not be in terms of their actual substantive nature but in regard to their very postulation. What we find within Torah is that there is, first, the logical investigation of truth. In this regard, we are to determine the possibility of whether an item is possibly true or not. In this realm, there is actually a very strong possibility that we may arrive at many possible alternatives of what could be true or not. It is in this realm that we declare Eilu V'eilu Divrei Elokim Chayim fostering the acceptance of all such possibilities within the system.

The challenge is that we must still arrive at a conclusion and, as such, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai continued their disagreement - but it is here that we find shikal ha'da'at, the personal weighing of the possibilities where one has to make a judgement call on which alternative is correct. In such a case, one cannot definitely state that one is right and one is wrong but can only make a personal determination on the matter, what one believes to be right and to be wrong.

This is reflected in the two statements made above and I feel that it would have been better for the shiur if I would have pointed this out. In stating the Beit Shammai reflected din and Beit Hillel reflected chesed, we are talking about their shikal ha'da'at. There were two possibilities based upon objective standards and so a further decision had to be reached by a personal standard - but such a personal standard has to recognize the similar validity of another's personal standard. This is reflected in this description of the different shikal ha'da'at of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. This is also reflected in this idea that a different beit din in the time of Mashiach may follow the view of Beit Shammai because it may have a different shikal ha'da'at. The important thing is, though, that while our personal shikal ha'da'at is an important factor of our personal understanding of what is correct, we cannot use such a standard to declare that we are absolutely right - and so Beit Hillel quoted Beit Shammai first to make it clear that the latter still clearly met the basic, objective standard of an honest possibility of the truth.