By: Dr. John Schloss, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Matthew 23: 2-3
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.”
In the time of Jesus, there were two schools of Judaism. One line of Jewish thought and teachings followed the scholar Shammai. Shammai was a strict rule follower. The teachings of Shammai were all about following the rules exactly as written in the Torah. No matter what the circumstances, you must follow the rules. The teachings of Hillel the Elder were quite different than those of Shammai in several fundamental ways. Hillel taught that the love of your neighbor was more important than blindly following the written law. Hillel is supposed to have said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” The Shammaite Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Sanhedrin majority were followers of Shammai. They viewed Jesus as a dangerous radical and heretic because the Judaism of Jesus was in the tradition of Hillel. After the second destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish leadership of the Sanhedrin shifted from the school of Shammai to that of Hillel. If you want to call yourself a Christian, follow the teachings of Jesus. Don’t be a Shammaite Pharisee. Compassion and love of your neighbor should guide your actions as you seek to follow the rules.