A story is told of the Roman soldier who wanted to play a trick on some Jews. He first went to Shammai, one of the great sages of the time. He said, "I hear you're a good teacher. Can you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot?"
Shammai became angry. He said it would be an impossible task; there are just too many laws to learn. Knowing this was a joke, he turned the soldier away and told him never to return.
The soldier next went to Hillel, another great sage. The Roman soldier asked the same question, "Can you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot?"
Hillel answered: "Yes. What is hurtful to you, don't do to others. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. No go and learn."
The soldier was so taken with Hillel's answer that he went and learned, and eventually converted to Judaism.
Hillel's answer stems from what is probably the most relevant teaching in this week's parsha: Love your neighbor as yourself. Beautifully simple, beautifully complex, it's the perfect place to start when beginning to teach children right from wrong.
Friday, April 27, 2018
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