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Hillel’s Silver Rule

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On another occasion it happened that a certain non-Jew came before Shammai and said to him, “I will convert to Judaism, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai chased him away with the builder’s tool that was in his hand. He came before Hillel and said to him, “Convert me.” Hillel said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat folio 31a (ca. 1st cen. CE)(AJWS transl.)

Listen to the motet Spem in Alium for forty voices by Thomas Tallis, sung here by the Tallis Scholars. This work is one of the great masterpieces of late English Renaissance polyphony, done for eight choirs of five singers each, and was composed for the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I in 1573. The Latin text is adopted from the Book of Judith. It reads in translation: I have never put my hope in any other but in you, / O God of Israel / who can show both anger / and graciousness, / and who absolves all the sins of suffering man / Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth / be mindful of our lowliness.

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