Hillel was born in Babylon about 75 BC and died about 15 AD. He was a famous scribe and Rabbi and founded the School of Hillel around 20 BC. Like so many other rabbis, Hillel was in the trades, being a laborer and a woodcutter. His grandson was the famous Rabban Gamaliel who succeeded him in the school. Those of his generation knew him as the "Sweet and noble Rabbi" and the loftiest figure that Rabbinism has produced. He is remembered as learned, humble, peaceful and enlightened. He was the chief seeker after peace and his sayings would be quoted in all Israel and spoken in the synagogues.

The best way to describe Hillel is to contrast his teaching with his contemporaries. Rabbi Shammai held the opposing school of thought and his followers would not associate with those who did acknowledge and obey the entire traditional law of Israel. The school of Hillel was more tolerant and would follow the maxims of their master, "Be one of the disciples of Aaron, a lover of peace, following after peace, loving all mankind, and drawing them to the law." The followers of Shammai were conservative and factious; Hillel's followers were liberal and universal. Shammai held to a fundamentalist legalism, stressing property rights; Hillel placed more importance on tolerance and human rights. The difference here between Hillel and the Zealots is of course obvious, there was no peace for the Zealots.

Jesus would come closest to Hillel in the liberal message of peace and freedom but the difference was more in style than substance. Hillel would rest with outside precedence; Jesus would speak with an inner authority. Hillel taught his students in classes to separatist students; Jesus taught in the streets and hilltops to sinners and outcasts. The familiar story of Hillel was of the question that a non-Jew asked of him; if Hillel could teach him the whole law standing on one leg, he would become a proselyte. The Rabbi said to him "That which is unpleasant to you, do not to your neighbor. That is the whole law, and all the rest is but its exposition." Jesus would echo this sentiment in the Golden Rule.

The Great Sanhedrin Council was presided over by Hillel until his death. He was so honored that his office was made hereditary in his family for the next 400 years. The second place of honor was given to Shammai. The spirit left over from this great Rabbi has inspired countless of Jews throughout this dispensation toward social reform and it is the liberalism inbred in the message that has had such a positive effect on the world. The Christians have had more to be indebted to from the teachings of this man and his family than they have ever been able to give him credit for. The road to liberation has been paved by those who have had the wisdom and insight to grasp the great truths taught by the School of Hillel. The law was entrusted to the Jews for a purpose and interpreted rightly by some and to the letter by others. Hillel said, "Where there are no men, be a man." Hillel was among the greatest of men.
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