WHAT DO YOU THINK?
These famous teachings of Hillel offer the key to leading a balanced and fulfilling life. The commentary divides Hillel’s teachings into two lessons: first, to strike a balance between attending to one’s personal needs and those of others; and second, never to miss an opportunity by postponing or delaying action.
What people can you point to fulfill “if I am not for myself,” but overlook “but if I am only for myself”? What about the reverse?
Do you know people who successfully balance these two perspectives as Hillel charges? How do you manage the balancing act between caring for your own needs and those of others?
Hillel’s second statement, “if not now, when?” urges us not to procrastinate. Is there something you have been thinking about starting, but have not started? What would help you take the first step?
Other posters and quotations also deal with the challenge of the individual versus the community. How does this quotation compare with, “a community is too heavy to carry alone” or “a human being is like a letter of the alphabet: to produce a word, it must combine with another”?
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Each image calls out to us to examine it, to note our thoughts and feelings, and relate these impressions to the quotation. Often clues in the artwork suggest meaning and invite interpretation.
Artist and illustrator Daniel Bennett Schwartz paints a multilayered portrait to depict Hillel’s teachings.
How does the image present the quotation? Was this how you interpreted the quotation without the image?
Is the entire quotation illustrated in the painting, or only part of it?
How are the faces placed in the painting? Is the focus on one or more faces? Why do you think the artist illustrated the quotation in this way?
Does this painting offer a different reading of the quotation from that explicated in the commentary? Can you reinterpret the quotation in light of the image?
Copyright© 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation
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