The Torah and the Golden Rule

From The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong:

The Great Transformation on Google Books …the most progressive Jews in Palestine were the Pharisees, who developed some of the most inclusive and advanced spiritualities of the Jewish Axial Age. They believed that the whole of Israel was called to be a holy nation of priests and that God could be experienced in the humblest home as well as in the temple. He was present in the smallest details of daily life, and Jews could approach him without elaborate ritual. They could atone for their sins by acts of loving-kindness rather than animal sacrifice. Charity was the most important commandment of the law. Perhaps the greatest of the Pharisees was Rabbi Hillel (c. 80 BCE-30 CE), who migrated to Palestine from Babylonia. In his view, the essence of the Torah was not the letter of the law but it’s spirit, which he summed up in the Golden Rule. In a famous Talmudic story, it was said that one day a pagan approached Hillel and promised to convert to Judaism if the rabbi could teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. Hillel replied simply: “What is hateful to yourself, do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Go learn it.”

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From “Modern Lessons From Hillel,” All Things Considered, September 7, 2010 :

“Not much is known about the life of the rabbi and Talmudic scholar Hillel, who lived 2,000 years ago, but his teachings have shaped Judaism. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's forthcoming book Hillel: If Not Now, When? argues that Hillel has as much to teach the 21 Century as he did his own.”