Category Archives: Rabbi Hillel

Simplicity, patience and compassion

We are constantly seeking an identity in all that we do, so knowing  that we are love incarnate,  we can relax our effort towards self aggrandizement and silently bestow what we are to everyone and each task that we undertake.  Bringing the light hearted into what would be considered hardship or a serious endeavor allows us all to take sneak peeks behind the veil.


My sister, Dr. aimee, is an incredible human being, a powerhouse of energy, creativity and concern.  She is an amazing audiologist and has her practice at a holistic, therapeutic, pediatric collective called Therapeeds*, which provides positive results without zombifiying their patients with medications.

One day aimee was reading a Roald Dahl book with a boy who was autistic.  They were discussing the book and witches and the boy looked at aimee and said, “You look like a witch.”  Aimee asked him why he thought she looked like a witch.  “Because you have a nose like a witch.”

Now, not only is aimee beautiful and much more like Mary Poppins on the magic side of the spectrum than a witch in one of Mr. Dahl’s books but she is also patient.  The next day they were reading the Ugly Duckling and discussed the brother and sister ducks teasing the young swan in their midst.  The boy said it was mean the way they were talking to the swan. “Like telling someone they looked like a witch?” my sister asked him, not unkindly.  His eyes grew wide, “Oh, that was mean of me to say that to you,” he said.  She told him he could think whatever he liked, his thoughts were his own but that he didn’t always have to share if it might hurt someone’s feelings.  He got it without shame.

Rabbi Hillel was once rudely asked by a man if he could teach the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot and he replied, ” “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

There were also two men who had a bet that they could make Hillel angry.  They insulted his Babylonian origin, but they both lost the bet. Hillel had simplicity, patience and compassion.

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

May the victory of simplicity, patience and compassion be ours, even periodically through the week.


Distilled wisdom

I had a lovely conversation last night with a dear friend I have known since sixth grade. Through the years, he has been the one I can count on to take up a contrary position when discussing my point of view. He lovingly does this to represent the paradox and to remind me that the universe has no boundaries.  He is a lawyer with a family and many responsibilities who delights in taking his children on outings, playing music and looking up at the stars. When I told him I was working on a book of reflections he shared his belief that after all he has read from the great philosophers to the scriptures of religions around the world, that they could all be distilled down to two words: Be Nice.

I was about to bring up Rabbi Hillel’s quote but he did it for me. When Rabbi Hillel was asked if he could teach the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot, he replied:  “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man.  That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. “

Great leaders find different ways of conveying this. The Dalai Lama says his religion is kindness.

The poet Daniel Ladinsky renders this message from the 14th century mystic, “Hafiz has found two emerald words that restored me… Act Great.”

In the play American in Paris, the Gershwin character is trying to find the element that is missing from his ballet score.  He finally muses that life is filled with despair and that “if you have the ability to bring joy and happiness to people, why would you withhold that?”

With the barrage of obstacles we face each day and the amount of intuition we need to stay on track, it is refreshing to have something simple that invites us back into our center.

May your week be distilled into simple clarity for you moment by moment.