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patience that breeds change
middot patience mesorah patience that breeds change

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patience that breeds change

Written by  riverton mussar

art-onefootOur Rabbis taught: A certain heathen once came before Shammai and asked him, "‘How many Torot have you?"

"‘Two",’ he replied: ‘the Written Torah and the Oral Torah."

"‘I believe you with respect to the Written, but not with respect to the Oral Torah; make me a proselyte on condition that you teach me the Written Torah [only]."

[But] he scolded and repulsed him in anger. When he went before Hillel, he accepted him as a proselyte. On the first day, he taught him, Alef, beth, gimmel, daleth; the following day he reversed [them ] to him.

"‘But yesterday you did not teach them to me thus",’ he protested.

"‘Must you then not rely upon me? Then rely upon me with respect to the Oral [Torah] too.’"

On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, "‘Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot."’ Thereupon he repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand.

When he went before Hillel, he[Hillel] said to him, ‘"What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it."’

On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen was passing behind a Beth Hamidrash, when he heard the voice of a teacher reciting, And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod.

Said he, "‘For whom are these?"

"‘For the High Priest",’ he was told. Then said that heathen to himself, ‘I will go and become a proselyte, that I may be appointed a High Priest.’

So he went before Shammai and said to him, "‘Make me a proselyte on condition that you appoint me a High Priest."’ But he repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand.

He then went before Hillel, who made him a proselyte. Said he to him, "‘Can any man be made a king but he who knows the arts of government?"

"Do you go and study the arts of government!"

He went and read. When he came to, and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death, he asked him, ‘"To whom does this verse apply?’"

"‘Even to David King, of Israel",’ was the answer. Thereupon that proselyte reasoned within himself a fortiori: if Israel, who are called sons of the Omnipresent, and who in His love for them He designated them, Israel is my son, my firstborn, yet it is written of them, ‘and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death’: how much more so a mere proselyte, who comes with his staff and wallet!

Then he went before Shammai and said to him, "‘Am I then eligible to be a High Priest; is it not written in the Torah, '‘and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death?'"’

He went before Hillel and said to him, "‘O gentle Hillel; blessings rest on thy head for bringing me under the wings of the Shechinah!"’

Some time later the three met in one place; said they, "Shammai's impatience sought to drive us from the world, but Hillel's gentleness brought us under the wings of the Shechinah."

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