What did Hillel mean?

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    The famous Gemara in Shabbos 31a relates how a gentile came to Shamai and asked to be taught the point of the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Shamai showed him the door. Then the guy went to Hillel who told him: What you don’t want done to you, don’t do unto your friend. The rest of the Torah is just an expounding of this rule. Go and learn it.

    Rashi gives two explanations. The first is that Hashem is referred to in some Pesukim as a “Friend”. Therefore, Hillel is referring to Hashem as well. The other explanation Rashi gives is that most Mitzvos are Bein Adam Lachaveiro, as in stealing, robbing, and Arayos (obviously referring to Eishes Ish).

    There are a wide range of explanations given throughout the generations about this Gembra. My question here is about Rashi’s explanations, and the second one in particular. What kind of response is that on the part of Hillel if it only applies to most of the Torah? That is far from being the whole Torah in a nut shell, which is what the gentile wanted to hear.


    Are you waiting for an “I don’t know, please tell us?”. Sorry the folks here ignore you, let me do it. How does it go again? Yeah, I don’t know..


    What were the exact words of rashi?

    Feif Un

    I heard the following: Imagine that you have a friend. You help this friend a lot. You give him a home to live in. You give him food to eat, and clothing to wear. Every need he has, you take care of. One day, you ask him for a favor. How would you react if he said no? You give him everything, and this is how he repays you when you ask for one thing? You would not like it at all!

    Hashem gives us everything. Without Him, we’d have nothing. He asks us for a few things in return – 613 mitzvos. How can we refuse? Purely out of gratitude, we should do it!

    That is also a pshat in teshuva m’ahavah versus teshuva m’yira.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Feif Un,

    A beautiful explanation.

    I think, though, that it fits better with the first p’shat which HaleiVi quoted from Rash”i, and he was looking to understand the second one.

    The explanation of the second p’shat, may I suggest, is that all mitzvos bein adam lamakom also include an aspect of bein adam lachaveiro, because kol Yisroel areivim zeh lozeh, so one person’s aveira affects the next person as well.


    Did you look up the Gemara?

    The Gemara says that Hillel said

    “What you hate, don’t do to your friend. This is the whole Torah. The rest is explanation.Go and learn.”

    So as to your second question, according to Hillel it is the whole Torah in a nutshell.

    As to your first question. You missed out on half of Rashi. After Rashi explains that ‘friend’ is also HKB”H he says “don’t transgress His words [just like] you would hate if your friend transgressed your words”.

    The last Rashi on this story explains that the rest of the Torah is an explanation of what HKBH’s words are that we shouldn’t transgress. For that Hillel said “Go and learn” what those things are (ie. the rest of the Torah).



    On my phone, I can’t read or write Hebrew. Now that I’m by a computer, here is the Gemara with Rashi.


    ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ?”? ?????? ?”? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ????? ?? ??? ?? ????? ???? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ????


    ???? ??? ????? ?? ?????. ???? ???? ???? ?? ????? (???? ??) ?? ???”? ?? ????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ?? ????? ?”? ????? ??? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ?????: ????. ??? ???? ????: ??????. ??? ????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ????? ??? ???? ????:

    Mod: If possible, please add “dir=rtl” into the blockquote tag.



    That fits very well with the Rashi’s first interpretation . The second explanation, though, is that Hillel is referring to Bein Adam Lachaveiro alone.


    I think the explanation of Rashi’s second peshat is simple-“Rubo K’kulo=since the majority is bain adam l’chaveioro so Hillel considered it a good answer to defining “Kol” Hatorah Kulo.

    With Regard to the words of Hillel, I like Daas Yochid’s explanation and I would expound on it. The essence of Kabalas Hatorah was that Klal Yisroel became Kaviyochol “One”


    I think the explanation of Rashi’s second peshat is simple-“Rubo K’kulo=since the majority is bain adam l’chaveioro so Hillel considered it a good answer to defining “Kol” Hatorah Kulo.

    With Regard to the words of Hillel, I like Daas Yochid’s explanation and would expound on it. The essence of Kabalas Hatorah was that Klal Yisroel then became Kaviyochol “One” with Hashem through the Torah; as it says in Zohar “Yisroel V’Orayasa V’Kudsha Brich Hu Chad Hu”= Hashem, the Torah and Klal Yisroel are “One” spiritual entity with Hashem kaviyachol. This is what Rashi in Parshas Yisro on the posuk “V’Yichan Shum Yisroel Neged Hahar” says Rashi-“K’ish Echad B’laiv Echad”, meaning that the essence of Kabalas Hatorah was a unification of all Klal Yisroel with Hashem through the Torah to become kaviyachol “One” with Hashem.

    So Hillel is saying that the essence of the whole Torah is this unification concept, and the Taryag mitzvos are the mediums with which to ensure and maintain this unification with Hashem. This is why Hillel used the words “that which you dislike being done to you, don’t do to your friend”, meaning this concept of “unification”; if you transgress a commandment of the Torah [be it bain adam l’makom or bain adam l’chavero], you are actually severing your own connection with Hashem and your fellow Jew.



    That Pshat is mentioned by Meforshim. It does explain well Hillel’s words. That Pshat is the meaning of Rabbi Akiva’s words that you quoted in our other discussion.

    I think your Rubo Kekulo Terutz is the way Rashi has to be read. So thanks for that. It still is somewhat unsettling that he gave an answer which doesn’t really sum up the whole Torah, unless you use the other Pshatim as a fall back. Meaning, he answered an answer which is technically true, while the main message he was giving over was only mostly true.


    Haleivi: You’re again mixing up the literal understanding of mitzvos from their deeper understanding. As I explained clearly on the other thread, “Ein Mikra Yotzeo Meidei Pishuto”-the mitzvos of bain adam l’chaveiro have a simple meaning. Rabbi Akiva actually made a clear differentiation between mitzvos bain adam l’makom and mitzvos bain adam l’chaveiro; unlike Hillel’s words which are a defining the whole Torah in general in its deeper understanding.

    BTW, if you still insist on defending your views, why don’t you just anaylize Hillel’s actions as mentioned in the Gemara. Hillel, the Godol Hador, is preparing hurriedly for Shabbos, someone comes knocking on the door demanding to speak to Hillel immediately, Hillel comes running out of shower, person asks him the most silliest nonsense irrelevant questions, Hillel calmly respectfully answers his questions, and returns to the shower, five minutes later..repeated again for a third time, Hillel answeres calmly and respectfully. how do you define this behavior of Hillel?-Natural good middos par excellence (w/o kavod hatorah or other bain adam l’makom considerations dictating opposite behavior).


    Another possibility is that Rashi is learning that bein adom l’Mokom is somehow a way of learning how to better be mekayem bein adom l’chaveiro.

    If you start from lashon acher and read through the Rashis then “????. ??? ???? ????” is saying all the mitzvos bein adom l’makom are commentary on bein adom l’chaveiro.

    I’d probably have to be a big ba’al mussar to understand what that really means but it would solve the issue you find unsettling.


    I’d suggest another reading into Rashi’s words:

    The gentile was asking for the rule that sums up the whole Torah. What he was thinking was that there is an underlying rule that once you know that, everything else is understood by itself. In reality there is no such thing. When you give a child five rules about something, they can often be consolidated into one idea, to an adult. The Torah comes from a “place” much higher than any Malach can perceive. How can you expect to be able to give one concept that would de-necessitate the whole Torah?

    When you look at the rest of that Gemara, you see a few stories of how people came with certain assumptions about the Torah and Mitzvos. In all instances, Shamai didn’t accept them because they had the wrong notion of what Yiddishkeit is all about. Hillel, knowing that once they are exposed to the Torah in a real way they’ll come around, tricked them by having them think that he’s accepting them on their terms. Once, they integrated, they understood what their mistake was, in a way that would never have been possible before they became fully learned.

    Here too, Shamai sent him packing for there is no such thing as giving the essence of the whole Torah in one sentence, when we still havn’t got to the bottom of it all these years. Hillel, on the other hand, played the same trick as in the other stories. He answered something that was mostly true and told him that he must learn through the Torah just to know how to apply this rule. Obviously, once he heard and liked what Hillel told him, he started learning Torah, and realized on his own how far from reality he was when starting out.


    I think that since this goy was not truly interested in being a gerr it was assur for Hillel to teach him torah. Therefore Hillel had to tell him “mai disony alach…” which is the foundation of his the 7 mitzvos. This is muttar to teach a goy.

    I am still bothered about the mitzvos of arayos and ever min hachay which don’t apply under this rule.

    It is also difficult to undestand that “Reachah=HBH” for a goy.


    Lander: To quote Rav Schachter, every Mitzvah in the Torah has some “moral, ethical, or spiritual principle” that can be found in it (basically what the Rambam says in the Moreh). Even Mitzvos that on the surface seem to not be related to it have an underlying purpose if we look at them the right way. I think that would answer your question.


    How can you say he wasn’t interested if that’s exactly what he did? He became a Ger. Also, what about the other fellows, to whom he did teach Torah?

    I think my Pshat is the actual basic intention of the Gemara. It fits like a glove with the other stories.

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