Hillel or Shammai, Liberal or Conservative?

Two ways of looking at Chanukah

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Hillel or Shammai, Liberal or Conservative?: Two ways of looking at Chanukah

The House of Shammai says: “On the first day of Chanukah, one lights eight lights; from here on, one progressively decreases.” The House of Hillel says: “On the first day, one lights a single light; from here on, one progressively increases.” (Talmud, Shabbat 21b)
Menorah, Chanukah

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Deborah Sheriton Toronto February 1, 2023

Thank you for this explanation regarding Hillel and Shammei (Liberal vs Conservative). It is the best explanation I have heard, We live in a world that has become far too corrupted, lazy and lenient. A better appreciation for Shammei's approach towards quality is needed. Best Wishes to Rabbi Krasnianski. Reply

pinchas goldstein cleveland April 28, 2014

beautiful explaination! thank you.:). Reply

zeynep December 10, 2013

Yearning for the light of ortho-doxy Jamie, the giving/withholding dichotomy I meant to represent a dynamic; a constant to and fro, a flowing movement between these opposing spiritual deeds. The specifics of this movement is dictated by the specifics of the spiritual task at hand. Being integrated to life's diversity as such, the dichotomy can not degrade/freeze to -isms.

Your ingenious formulation of ortho-doxy as a paradoxical (only for the dualistically conditioned human intellect) place/state 'combining opposites without becoming polarized between them' is in truth the definition of what is called 'Transcendence'. Transcendence is what qualifies G-d's relationship to His creation, and it is contained within the evolutionary capabilities of the human being eventually 'situating' him/her within unobstructed reach of Light.

In Judaism knowing is kindled and comes to the fore through studying the Book, not necessarily academically but certainly with a sober heart and a passionate mind.

So much more to share... Reply

Edward L Yablonsky Phoenix December 16, 2017
in response to zeynep:

"Transcendence is what qualifies G-d's relationship to His creation, and it is contained within the evolutionary capabilities of the human being eventually 'situating' him/her within unobstructed reach of Light. "On a case by case basis, our evolving capabilities to transform have to be handled very gently and carefully until we transform and are refined totally, because we as a whole according to our levels ofd desire and insights and consciousness, each of us are differently situated as to our desire to evolve into the likeness of G-d, becoming little g-ds. We unobstruct our selves because of our tremendous desire to be such little g-ds. That desire is limited to the very few tzaddikim at present.Later during Moschiach it will be diffused in such manner, as the Shammaite way will be universal. Reply

zeynep istanbul October 31, 2021
in response to Edward L Yablonsky:

Dear Edward, it's after almost 8 years since I wrote my comments that Chabad's algorithm has notified me of your responses and so it might well be that you still have 3 years to go until you receive my responses to yours:)

I've read again what I've written. Nothing major that I would like to revise. But I rarely intellectualize this way anymore. I do take this process of "unobstructing ourselves" very seriously indeed (and yes "very gently and carefully" also, perhaps even too much so). And yes it bears fruit. A fruit with an extremely subtle taste and in its subtlety extremely delightful fruit.

I agree with almost all the points you've made, especially the uniqueness of each of us vis-a-vis the evolutionary path towards the Divine. But this concept of "becoming little gods" deeply alienates me. Because I do not want to become a little god. I only desire to feel the presence of Perfection. And if that is predicated on becoming a little god, so be it. Reply

jamie moran London December 10, 2013

thanks zeynep.. but you have offered an example of ortho-doxy the exact same as narrow ridge with chasms of error on either side- to left and to right. for, if we just give and never withhold, we create an ism of giving, and this is in error; if we just withhold and never give, we create the opposite ism, and this too is in error. ortho-doxy is a paradoxical place/state, which combines opposites without becoming polarized between them. it is a third-way, and somehow it 'situates' us in such a way as to be reachable by the living presence of the Light- it is total, not just above the neck. it enables us to be touched by the divine reaching out.. this begs the question, of how do we know.. ortho-doxy is a kind of knowing of the divine, forged from paradox, but the knowing is not hotly emotive any more than it is coldly intellectual. better described as being in a certain relationship to divine mystery. wakeful, vibrant, etc are descriptions of the narrow edge we walk in this third way. Reply

zeynep December 8, 2013

Jamie Moran's curiously timely question about ortho-doxy in Judaism Building on Jamie's definition of ortho-doxy as the "right way,right worship,right teaching" with ortho- connoting a state similar to "being in tune",to "having perfect pitch in music" (without taking it to be as dramatic as 'walking a narrow ridge with chasms of error on either side') and remaining within the semantic context of Hillel/Shammai, Abraham/Isaac, Chesed/Gevurah dialectical framework,here is what I think is/ought to be Jewish orthodoxy.

Jewish orthodoxy is about Knowing when,how and to what extent to give and withold, to alllow and restrict to breathe out breath in, to praise and criticize, to shine and rain and then to unequivocally act upon this knowledge.

The orthodox Jew is in a perpetual state of spiritual wakefulness and directed vibrancy. This constitutes his/her serenity,strength,joy and full self-realization.For, every iota of a second,s/he knows, feels,recognizes and cherishes beyond measure the Eternally Loving Presence of the Source of all and thus paves the road to the Light. Reply

jamie moran London, UK December 7, 2013

It is interesting that in both judaism and christianity three, not two, terms are used of different streams= liberal, conservative, orthodox. liberal and conservative are obvious 'positions', the former more maternal, the latter more patriarchal. but in both judaism and christianity there is this term 'orthodox', a third way beyond the usual polarisation into liberal vs conservative. the orthodox in christianity are eastern, and quite different from liberal or conservative streams in the west. how does this work in judaism? in meaning, ortho-dox refers to right way, right worship, right teaching, but 'right' here is subtle, more like being in tune, or having perfect pitch in music. you walk a narrow ridge with chasms of error on either side. there is an echo of RTA in Sanskrit, and DHARMA, as it later became..
it means something like-- to be in the truest 'place' vis a vis the divine mystery, best place for things to happen. Reply

H A Arnevet Florida December 6, 2013

Shamai was right How do we know? We learn that when the meshiach comes, we will follow Shamai rather than Hillel. If anyone REALLY studies Shamai's decisions and actions they will find that in many ways was MORE LIBERAL than Hillel. (BTW, that's not how to segregate ore from dirt.) Reply

Michael Davis Houston October 28, 2021
in response to H A Arnevet:

Not true according to The Rebbe. Read The Sustained Paradox and please tell me if I am wrong. B”H Reply

Anonymous Pembroke Pines, FL December 6, 2013

Food and Holiday Actually, it would seem food is a very important part of Yom Kippur. The focus is'not on 'eating' but rather 'avoiding' food from dusk to dusk. It is a conscious decision made to prepare us as we seek redemption. By not concerning ourselves with satisfying physical needs, Yom Kippur's sacrifice becomes a very significant commitment. We are able to seek true introspection without interruption or distraction by mundane needs, pray with our hearts truly open and thru G-d's great mercy, maybe find the redemption we seek. After the gates of Yom Kippur have closed around us, the year and what it will bring is set. The food we eat is sustenance to sustain us for the long journey of the new year and all it will bring. Reply

zeynep December 5, 2013

Only the inspired can be inspiring. Most inspired and genuine rendering of the Hillel/Shammai, Abraham/Isaac productive dichotomy. Elegantly weaving in the theme of positive/negative mitzvot, culminating in a preliminary exposition of the spiritual dynamics of the Messianic era.

Rabbi Krasnianski, your Love-ly presentation allowed us a glimpse into the innermost yearnings of your beautiful Jewish soul. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Edward L Yablonsky Phoenix December 16, 2017
in response to zeynep:

Gevurah and chesed are both valid approaches when blended with heavenly wisdom relative to mankind's individually fractured soul each of us incapable of handling the light of G-d's overwhelming presence by the "far and large " of our past. Tzadikkim ,though few, have totally immersed in the holy sparks, the rest of suffering mankind have recovered the 288 sparks piecemeal over the great expanse of time. We will all be High Priests and immerse totally in holiness .The elusive dichotomy of the Hillelite/Shammai paradox , will be merged and the resultant divine ravishing of ouir souls will result in our being of a disposition likened to the Shammaites of old . Reply

Elchonon Parshan December 3, 2013

What about Yom Kippur Yom Kippur is not connected with food. Chanuka is not solely alone with this 'No Food' thing. Reply

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