Why won't you hurt a fly?

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    In the famous Gemara in Shabbos, where a guy tried getting Hillel angry, after failing he said may there be no more like you. Hillel asked him why he would say that, to which he replied by relating how he had made a wagger and lost 400 Zuz because of Hillel’s self control. Hillel answered, “You can lose 400 and another 400. Hillel doesn’t get angry.”

    There are two puzzling things to be pointed out here. Firstly, The man asked Hillel all those silly questions, seemingly, for one reason — to try to get Hillel angry. However, after realizing defeat, why did he continue to speak so Chutzpadik to the sage?

    Second, Hillel’s answer sounds almost uncaring and cold. Is this the same person who just answered patiently to silly questions in a demeaning way?

    My answer to these are that this fellow saw that Hillel was so nice and would never get angry. As a last resort, he figured he’d tell him straight out what he came for. Hillel being such a nice person would definitely get the hint and feign anger.

    Hillel’s answer was that he is not a soft natured person that listens to everyone. He doesn’t get angry even at your expense.

    My point:

    There are people that think of themselves as very nice people, while they are merely afraid of others. A boss who ‘cannot’ fire a worker, but will instead leave them a note during a delicate moment, is not a nice person at all. He is actually a very mean person who is just afraid or shy. Someone who doesn’t tell you that something isn’t for you, but will let the situation turn very uncomfortable until you realize it, is not a nice person by any means.

    On the other hand, someone that knows what must be done and braces himself to be somewhat uncomfortable now to save future disasters is trully a Baal Midos Tovos — and a Talmid of Hillel.

    ☕️coffee addict

    I would answer your title by saying “I would miss”


    Nice post! Great message!

    ………But what does it have to do with flies???


    Agreed 100%. Sometimes you need to do what’s best for an individual even if he doesn’t want it.


    Hillel answered, “You can lose 400 and another 400. Hillel doesn’t get angry.”

    In an alternate version I heard that the man said to him, “You just caused me to lose 400 zuzim!” to which Hillel replied, “Better that you should lose another 400 zuzim than that I should lose my temper.”


    HaLeivi, thanks for the post, and a good lesson. But there is a gray area between being properly nice and being nice to the point where one can be taken advantage of, which is of course not ideal. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what is the proper thing to do vs. what is a “nice” thing to do, but that probably comes with time.


    Middle, there are gray areas in anything, even day and night. But actually, I think the type of person that would be taken advantage of is the one that is nice out of soft and submissive nature — the opposite of what I am describing.

    Oomis, I wrote a literal translation. You can definitely translate it that way.


    Very nice. 🙂

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