One man was a significant Persian religious leader who founded a religion built upon his philosophy, while the other gained a reputation as one of the most important Jewish leaders in history. In this article, you will learn a little about their background, as well as become familiar with a couple of their sayings and quotes.
Zoroaster (~628 , 551 BC)
This Persian religious leader is known as the founder of Zoroastrianism , a religion and philosophy built upon his beliefs. A characteristic associated with the religion includes the belief of active participation in life that is achieved through good thoughts, good deeds, and good words. It is believed that all of the above is necessary to secure a life filled with happiness and to keep chaos out of the picture. When speaking of ‘active’ participation , it is this central element that developed into Zoroaster’s concept of free will.
Zoroaster also became an Avestan prophet (associated with an Eastern Old Iranian language that is found in scared hymns and canons of Zoroastrianism) and religious poet. Today, we can study hymns that have been attributed to him (called the Gathas), which hold a special place at the center of the religion. A few words connected to this religious leader include:
“When you doubt, abstain.”
“Doing good to others is not a duty, it is a joy, for it increases our own health and happiness.”
“Be good, be kind, be humane, and charitable; love your fellows; console the afflicted; pardon those who have done you wrong.”
“Suffer no anxiety, for he who is a sufferer of anxiety becomes regardless of enjoyment of the world and the spirit, and contraction happens to his body and soul.”
Rabbi Hillel (~30 BC , 9AD)
Born in Babylon, this Jewish rabbi (and teacher) has gained a rather famous reputation as a religious leader and became one of the most significant figures in Jewish history. It was he who played an important role in the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud. In Judaism, Hillel is regarded as a sage and scholar , furthering education by establishing the “House of Hillel” , “Beit Hillel” , a school Tannaim. He also founded a long line of Sages who served the people living in the land of Israel.
A little more background on Hillel sees him living in Jerusalem during the time of King Herod and the Roman Emperor, Augustus. It is recorded that Hillel was 40 years old when he traveled to the Land of Israel. He would spend 40 years studying and then would take on the position of spiritual head of the Jewish people during the last third of his life. Memorable quotes attributed to Hillel include:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”
“He who refuses to learn deserves extinction.”
“What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary.”