House of Hillel
The House of Hillel (Hebrew: בית הלל, Beit Hillel, also known as the Academy of Hillel), was a school of Jewish law and thought founded by the famed Hillel the Elder which thrived in 1st century B.C. Jerusalem. The House of Hillel is most widely known for its hundreds of disputes with the House of Shammai (Beit Shammai), founded by Shammai, a contemporary of Hillel's. Most of the disputes between the two schools involve Halakha (Jewish law); however, some involve arguments of Jewish philosophy. The final law almost always coincides with Beit Hillel because they constituted the majority, also because the House of Hillel studied the view of their opponents; indeed, sometimes it is considered improper, according to Jewish law, to follow the views of Beit Shammai. According to a statement on Eruvin 13b, the House of Hillel merited that halakhah be set according to them since they were calm and humble: not only did they teach the House of Shammai's teachings, but they said them first before their own.
Although Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel have hundreds of disputes in the Talmud, Hillel and Shammai themselves only have three recorded disputes. Indeed, the Talmud notes that, with the advent of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, "ne'estah hatorah kishtei torot" -- the Torah (Jewish law) became like two Torahs. It is the ninth most frequently mentioned in the Mishnah.
Although the schools fought bitterly over matters of Jewish law, they got along well. The Talmud even records that the constituents of the two schools intermarried — despite the fact that they argued over specific cases relating to the laws of marriage and divorce.
- "Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai", Encyclopedia of Religion. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA
- Drew Kaplan, "Rabbinic Popularity in the Mishnah VII: Top Ten Overall [Final Tally] Drew Kaplan's Blog (5 July 2011).