Shammai (50 BCE–30 CE,
Hebrew: שמאי) was a Jewish scholar of the 1st century, and an important figure in Judaism's core work of rabbinic literature, the Mishnah.
Shammai's school of thought became known as the
House of Shammai( _he. "Beit Shammai"), as Hillel's was known as the House of Hillel("Beit Hillel"). After Menahem the Essenehad resigned the office of Av Beit Din(or vice-president) of the Sanhedrin, Shammai was elected to it, Hillel being at the time president. After Hillel died, circa 20 CE, Shammai took his place as president but no vice-president from the minority was elected so that the school of Shammai attained complete ascendancy, during which Shammai passed "18 ordinances" in conformity with his ideas. The Talmudstates that when he passed one of the ordinances, contrary to the opinion of Hillel, the day "was as grievous to Israel as the day when the [golden] calf was made" ("Shabbat", 17a). The exact content of the ordinances is not known, but they seem to have been designed to strengthen Jewish identity by insisting on stringent separation between Jews and gentiles, an approach that was regarded as divisive and misanthropic by Shammai's opponents.
Gamalielsucceeded to the position of president after Shammai in the year 30, but the Sanhedrin would remain dominated by the house of Shammai until around 70 (see Council of Jamnia). A "voice from heaven" is said to have nullified the legality of the rulings of the house of Shammai (" Yerushalmi" " Berakhot", 1:7), which is why Rabbinical Judaismfollows Hillel.
Shammai took an active part in the political and religious complications of his native land. Of an irascible temperament, he seemed to lack some of the tireless patience which is said to have distinguished HillelFact|date=June 2008. Once, when a
gentilecame to him and asked to be converted to Judaism (or Noahite monotheism as H. Falk argues) upon conditions which Shammai held to be impossible, he drove the applicant away; whereas Hillel succeeded in converting him ("Shabbat", 31a).
Nevertheless Shammai was in no way a misanthrope. He himself appears to have realized the disadvantages of his temper; hence he recommended a friendly attitude toward all. His motto was: "Make the study of the
Torahyour chief occupation; speak little, but accomplish much; and receive every man with a friendly countenance" (" Avoth", i. 15). He was modest even toward his pupils.
In his religious views Shammai was known to be strict. He wished to make his son, while still a child, conform to the law regarding fasting on
Yom Kippur(the Day of Atonement); he was dissuaded from his purpose only through the insistence of his friends (" Yoma", 77b). Once, when his daughter-in-law gave birth to a boy on Sukkot(the Feast of Tabernacles) he broke through the roof of the chamber in which she lay in order to make a sukkahof it, so that his new-born grandchild might fulfil the religious obligation of the festival ("Sukkah", 28a).
MidrashSifre, " Deuteronomy", § 203 it is said that Shammai commented exegetically upon three passages of Scripture. These three examples of his exegesis are: (1) the interpretation of Deuteronomy, xx. 20 (Tosefefta, " Eruvin", iii. 7); (2) that of II Sam. xii. 9 (" Kiddushin", 43a); and (3) either the interpretation of " Leviticus", xi. 34, which is given anonymously in Sifra on the passage, but which is the basis for Shammai's halakhatransmitted in 'Orlah ii. 5, or else the interpretation of "Exodus", xx. 8 ("Remember the Sabbath"), which is given in the Mekilta, Yitro, 7 (ed. Weiss, p. 76b) in the name of Eleazar ben Hananiah, but which must have originated with Shammai, with whose custom of preparing for the Sabbath it accords.
Shammai founded a school of his own, known as the
House of Shammai, which differed fundamentally from that of Hillel; and many of Shammai's sayings are probably embodied in those handed down in the name of his school.
Hillel and Shammai
Kfar Shamai, a moshav in Israel
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=549&letter=S Jewish Encyclopedia: Shammai]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=956&letter=B Jewish Encyclopedia: Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai]
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SHAMMAI — (Ha Zaken, i.e., The Elder; c. 50 B.C.E.–c. 30 C.E.), one of the zugot , the leaders of the Sanhedrin. Hillel s first colleague was menahem the Essene and Shammai was appointed to succeed him as av bet din when he retired. Nothing is known of the … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Shammai — Shammaï Shammaï (mort en 30 ap. J. C.) fut contemporain d Hillel, et comme lui, une figure majeure de la Mishna. Shammaï et Hillel forment le couple de Sages le plus célèbre de l histoire talmudique. Ils sont en constant désaccord sur la Halakha … Wikipédia en Français
Shammai — • Jewish scribe who together with Hillel made up the last of the pairs , or as they are sometimes erroneously named, presidents and vice presidents of the Sanhedrin Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Shammai Shammai … Catholic encyclopedia
Shammaï — la tombe de Shammaï à Méron Shammaï (mort en 30 ap. J. C.) fut contemporain d Hillel, et comme lui, une figure majeure de la Mishna. Shammaï et Hillel forment le couple de Sages le plus célèbre de l histoire talmudique. Ils sont en constant… … Wikipédia en Français
Shammai — (50 BC–c. AD 30) Jewish sage. Shammai ha Zaken (‘the Elder’) and his contemporary HILLEL were the leading Jewish scholars and teachers of the late Second Temple period, and were co heads of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Each was the founder and… … Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament
Shammai — A rabbinical teacher [[➝ teaching]] in the time of Jesus. He gave a rigorous interpretation of the Law, contrasting with the more relaxed and liberal views of Hillel. Those of the Shammai school were often in conflict with the Roman authorities,… … Dictionary of the Bible
Shammai — /shah muy/ fl. 1st century B.C., Hebrew rabbi: founder of Beth Shammai, school of hermeneutics. * * * … Universalium
Shammai — (fl. 1st cent BCE) Palestinian rabbi. He was a contemporary of Hillel, and together they were the last of the zugot. He adopted a rigorous standpoint in moral and religious matters. The School of Shammai later disputed legal issues with the… … Dictionary of Jewish Biography
SHAMMAI — an eminent Jewish rabbi of the time of Herod, who held the position of supreme judge in the Sanhedrim under the presidency of HILLEL (q.v.), and whose narrow, rigid orthodoxy and repressive policy became the leading principles of his school,… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
Shammai — /shah muy/ fl. 1st century B.C., Hebrew rabbi: founder of Beth Shammai, school of hermeneutics … Useful english dictionary