“Love is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. And what is love? – do not do unto others that which you would not like to be done to you,” comments Osho on this anecdote. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
Hillel the Elder, born in Babylon, c. 118 BCE, died in Jerusalem, 10 CE, teaching the whole Torah while the sceptic stands on one foot
The Talmud has a tremendously beautiful story to tell.
A heathen came to Hillel – a great Jewish mystic – and cynically asked him: “Teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Now this is impossible; the Torah is a big scripture – it really takes years to understand it. And this cynic, this skeptical person, says to Hillel: “If you have understood the Torah then give me the gist, the summary, the essential. While I stand on one foot, you tell me all that is in the Torah.”
And this skeptic had been to other mystics also – but they must not have been mystics; they were great theologians, philosophers, thinkers, pundits, scholars. They all had refused. They said, “This is impossible; the Torah needs years of study, a lifelong study. And the Torah cannot be condensed into a few sentences – that will be sacrilege. It is not possible.” But Hillel agreed, and answered immediately: “Do not unto others as you would not have others do unto you. This is the whole Torah – the rest is commentary.”
Love is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. And what is love? – do not do unto others that which you would not like to be done to you. This is the criterion of love: do unto others that which you would like to be done to you. Whatsoever you ask for yourself, allow that to others too. Whatsoever you don’t want to happen to you, don’t do it to others. Think of yourself as the very center of existence. In fact, don’t think of the other as the other: only you are. and in the other too, is the same life, the same song waiting to be uttered, the same urge to rise to the divine, the same seeking, the same inquiry, the same throbbing heart, the same agony, the same ecstasy.
Osho, The Divine Melody – Discourses on Songs of Kabir, Ch 9 (excerpt)