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Yevamot 14a:

... Beit Shammai are sharper than Beit Hillel...

What does it mean that Beit Shammai are sharper? Obviously, that cannot mean that they had better sources or arguments, otherwise they would not have been a minority.

How do we know that they were sharper?

(cf Beis Hillel vs Beis Shammai - so what that the latter are sharper?)

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  • What do you mean how do we know. That's what were told. Do you mean how was it determined? Anything we say would be conjecture.
    – robev
    Mar 24, 2022 at 20:59
  • Yes, how was it established?
    – sds
    Mar 24, 2022 at 21:03
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    Chazal says that God created the world with the perfect combination of justice and mercy. Shammai's "sharpness" may mean that he was big on justice -- perhaps too big. Mar 25, 2022 at 1:39
  • Interesting, after all binah is on the left with din, whereas chokhmah is on the right with hesed. We follow Hillel because it is better to be on the right hand with mercy and wisdom.
    – Mike
    Mar 25, 2022 at 4:39
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    There is a popular academic view (that I myself am not really in favor of, even though it's interesting) that Beit Shammai's hashkafah was similar to that of the zealots, and therefore that means that during the Great Revolt they fought alongside the zealots, and that's why they were such a small group after the destruction - because most of them died during the war. Food for thought.
    – Harel13
    Mar 25, 2022 at 7:54

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