Thursday, June 09, 2005

Shabbos: Hillel Incapable of Embarrassment

Hillel & Shammai
Those who know me and how I study Talmud will not be surprised if I compare Hillel and Shammai to Lennon and McCartney. Shammai (second from the left) is more stringent, insisting on a narrow path, exhorting us to imagine that there is nothing but the energy that we generate by pursuing truth. Hillel (third from the left) has a sunnier disposition and invites the neophyte in by example rather than trial. Shammai will tell you how important he is (bigger than Jesus!) while Hillel will leave you feeling as if you are important. It's not as compelling or well developed as my argument on the oral transmission via Abbott & Costello (not yet posted to this blog, though bound to end up here sooner or later), but take the poetic leap with me and think on how each pair of antagonists created a unique linguistic/musical pallet that consolidated what preceded it and took it to the next level.

The legend of Hillel's beautiful melodies would not have endured so long without Shammai's abrasive interruptions of his elegant tempos. If Shammai did not expel the convert with impossible demands, Hillel's conversion of him by taking his demands seriously and turning them on their head would be a lesser song: the success is cherished most because of the failure that preceded it.

The fool who bets that Hillel will lose his temper (31a) loses his wager twice and wins for losing, but who will bet that Shammai will answer a truly thoughtful question temperately? And what would be the lesson if he won?

Kaspit's comments below led me to his blog, where I discovered his comments on this very daf and responded as follows:
. . . and he who isn't busy being born is busy dying, eh? Hillel's role in this folio suggests that we will find our path by avoiding what is hateful to others; Shammai's role is to offer an alternative motivation to stumble along the same road: fear of God. While Hillel ostensibly prevails, the next folio is a litany of the calamities that will befall one who descrates the Sabbath. Death hovers at every turn. The Fear Factor does not get pushed back easily. Those of us who have managerial responsibility know only too well that a sharp word uttered thoughtlessly has more clout than we realize in the moment. Murderous blows unconsciously delivered kill just the same.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pest control in the perennial garden
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One of the many advantages of growing perennials is the ability of these beautiful flowers to return to full bloom season after season. While this ability to bloom repeatedly is one of the things that makes perennials so special, it also introduces a number of important factors into your gardening plan. One of the most important of these is a proper pest control regimen.

While a garden full of annuals starts each season as a blank slate, the perennial garden is essentially a work in progress. The fact that the plants stay in the ground through winter makes things like proper pruning, disease management and pest control very important. If the garden bed is not prepared properly after the current growing season, chances are the quality of the blooms will suffer when the next season rolls around.

One of the most important factors to a successful perennial pest control regimen is the attention and vigilance of the gardener. As the gardener, you are in the best position to notice any changes in the garden, such as spots on the leaves, holes in the leaves, or damage to the stems. Any one of these could indicate a problem such as pest infestation or a disease outbreak.

It is important to nip any such problem in the bud, since a disease outbreak or pest infestation can easily spread to take over an entire garden. Fortunately for the gardener, there are a number of effective methods for controlling both common pests and frequently seen plant diseases.

Some of these methods are chemical in nature, such as insecticides and fungicides, while others are more natural, like using beneficial insects to control harmful ones. While both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, many gardeners prefer to try the natural approach first, both for the health of the garden and the environment.

There is an additional benefit of the natural approach that many gardeners are unaware of. These days, it is very popular to combine a koi pond with a garden, for a soothing, relaxing environment. If you do plan to incorporate some type of fish pond into your garden landscape, it is critical to avoid using any type of insecticide or fungicide near the pond, since it could seep into the water and poison the fish. Fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals in the environment, especially with a closed environment like a pond.

As with any health issue, for people or plants, prevention is the best strategy to disease control and pest control alike. The best defense for the gardener is to grow a garden full of the healthiest, most vigorous plants possible. Whenever possible, varieties of plants bred to be disease or pest resistant should be used. There are a number of perennials that, through selective breeding, are quite resistant to the most common plant diseases, so it is a good idea to seek them out.

Happy gardening,

7:16 PM  
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7:54 AM  

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