Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teen Spirit 3: Hillel

Gandhi's three-word summation of his life, "Renounce and enjoy," reminds me of Rabbi (Teacher) Hillel (ca. 65 BCE-10 CE) who, when asked to summarize the Torah while standing on one foot, said:

"Love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. That is the whole law--the rest is commentary. Go and study it."

I would definitely use that story to talk to teens about Jewish spirituality because it's so dear to think of great teachers standing on one foot, like an Edward Lear drawing (left)*.

It also flows into Christian spirituality, as another Jewish teacher, Jesus, whose life overlapped with Hillel's, also said that "Love your neighbor" is the keystone of religious law. {The parable of the Good Samaritan, John 10]

These teachings are simple enough to understand. The trick comes in the recommendation:
go and do this.

Do it?!
Now, there's the rub.

*Edward Lear images are copyright free. His illustration of parrot and parsnip pie and many others are available at

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