PEACE, LOVE AND A PROGRAM
Hillel says: "Be like the students of Aaron (Moses' brother). Love peace and pursue peace. Love humanity and bring them close to Torah."
He [also] used to say: "A name that is widespread loses its fame. One who does not add [to his knowledge] causes [it] to cease. Whoever does not study [the Torah] may as well be dead. Whoever makes [unworthy] use of the crown [of learning] will be passed on."
He would also say: "If I am not for myself who will be for me? And if I'm for myself [alone], what am I? And if not now, when?"
Shammai says: "Set time for Torah study. Say little and do much. Receive every person graciously."
Your Mishnah Navigator
1. How does one reconcile what Hillel says in the first paragraph with what he says in the second paragraph? Does "Whoever does not study the Torah may as well be dead" sound like someone who "loves humanity"?
2. Is there any connection between the phrase in the third paragraph, "If not now when" and Hillel's two previous statements? How does it connect?
3. Is Shammai's advice in conflict with Hillel? How does his "program" for behaving differ? How is it the same?
Shammai's statement is a behavioral prescription for living. You won't study unless you set times. Talking inhibits doing. Every person deserves a pleasant greeting from you. This is Shammai's creed. "Upon these three things a person stands."
Hillel's statements are more analytical. What should be one's motivation for what one does? He should be a "lover of peace and a lover of people." He needs to learn in order to feel "alive." And a learner should use his "crown" for worthy purposes. A person must also be concerned about balancing one's needs with the needs of others. Or, if you read Hillel as saying "and being for myself what am I" as meaning, now that I've ascertained I have to be for myself, what does it mean to be for one's self? I must articulate what this self requires.
Shammai is critical of this rumination. Instead, he gives a prescription from which good attitudes should follow. Hillel presents the issues while Shammai prescribes behavior.