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The Chassam Sofer says that Shammai was actually a builder by trade. He wanted to show this apikores that there is more to religion than just kindness to your fellow, its possible to be a talmid chacham and a builder. Whereas Hillel said that you can learn on one foot, i.e. kindness, but don't forget that includes kindness to Hashem which means keeping His ...


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I heard once in a recording from R. Y.S. Schorr that Shamai represented a middas hadin, an exacting attitude of strict justice (as is evidenced by those very stories). His measuring stick was a display of just that point - everything had to be measured and exactly according to what was deserved.



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