House of Shammai

House of Shammai

The House of Shammai (or "Beit Shammai", "beit" is Hebrew for house) was the school of thought of Judaism founded by Shammai, a Jewish scholar of the 1st century. A non literal translation that perhaps gives a better flavour of the expression would be The Academy of Shammai.

The House of Shammai was the most eminent contemporary and the halachic opponent of the House of Hillel, and is almost invariably mentioned along with him. Both Houses are mentioned in the Talmud, where all of the discussions between the houses are listed, including some stories.

Even though Hillel and Shammai had strong arguments, they respected each other. Indeed, the Talmud records that the two schools intermarried.

Modern day Rabbinic Judaism almost invariably follows the teachings of Hillel, but there several notable exceptions in which the view of Shammai is followed to this day.

Specific examples of difference

Among the many bones of contention are the following:

Forgetting to say grace after meals

One of the discussions that Hillel and Shammai had was about the grace after the meals ("Birkat Hamazon", Hebrew: בירכתּ המזון). The question was: "What happens when you forget to say the blessing after you finished your meal and you left the place where you ate?" Hillel said that you can say the blessing anywhere, the important thing is to say the blessing while Shammai argues that you have to go back to the place where you ate the meal and say the blessing there.

The Hanukkah candles

One of the well-known differences between the houses is their insight on setting up the "Menorah" (candelabrum) for Hanukkah.

Hillel states that on the first night of Hanukkah, one should use one candle, and then increase that by one each night, culminating in eight flames on the last night of the festival.

The stated rationale for this was as a general rule in halacha, one may increase in holiness, but not decrease.

Beit Shammai held the opposite opinion. That we should begin with eight candles and gradually reduce to one.

Their opinion was based on the halachic principle that allows one to derive law using similarities. The Sukkot (Tabernacles) offerings in the Temple in Jerusalem involved 70 bullocks, reducing by one each day from 13 down to 7.

Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat is the "new year for trees" for the Jews. According to the Mishnah, the House of Hillel holds that the new year for trees is on the 15th of the Jewish month of Shevat. The House of Shammai said that it should be on the 1st on Shevat.

ee also


External links

* [ Jewish Encyclopedia: Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shammai — (50 BCE ndash;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 was the most eminent contemporary and the halakhic opponent of Hillel, and is… …   Wikipedia

  • Shammai ha-Zaken — ▪ Jewish sage (“the Elder”) born c. 50 BCE died c. 30 CE       one of the leading Jewish sages of Palestine in his time. With the sage Hillel, he was the last of the zugot (“pairs”), the scholars that headed the Great sanhedrin, the Jewish high… …   Universalium

  • 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

  • House of Hillel — The House of Hillel ( he. בית הלל, Beit Hillel ), also known as the Academy of Hillel, founded by the famed Hillel the Elder, is a school of Jewish law and thought that thrived in first century Jerusalem. The House of Hillel is most widely known… …   Wikipedia

  • Hillel and Shammai — were two great rabbis of the early first century. They each founded a major school of Jewish thought, respectively known as the House of Hillel and House of Shammai , and they and their schools had ongoing debates on matters of ritual practice.… …   Wikipedia

  • Beth Shammai — Seph. /bet shah muy /, Hebrew. the school of Jewish legal thought and hermeneutics founded in Jerusalem in the 1st century B.C. by the Jewish teacher Shammai and characterized by an austere or rigid interpretation of Jewish law and tradition. Cf …   Universalium

  • Beth Shammai — Seph. /bet shah muy /, Hebrew. the school of Jewish legal thought and hermeneutics founded in Jerusalem in the 1st century B.C. by the Jewish teacher Shammai and characterized by an austere or rigid interpretation of Jewish law and tradition. Cf …   Useful english dictionary

  • Hillel the Elder — Hillel (הלל) (born Babylon traditionally c.110BCE 10CE [ [ letter=H Jewish Encyclopedia: Hillel] : His activity of forty years is perhaps historical; and since it began, according to a… …   Wikipedia

  • Talmud and Midrash — ▪ Judaism Introduction       commentative and interpretative writings that hold a place in the Jewish religious tradition second only to the Bible (Old Testament). Definition of terms       The Hebrew term Talmud (“study” or “learning”) commonly… …   Universalium

  • WOMAN — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the historical perspective biblical period marriage and children women in household life economic roles educational and managerial roles religious roles women outside the household… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism