א"ר אבא אמר שמואל שלש שנים נחלקו ב"ש וב"ה הללו אומרים הלכה כמותנו והללו אומרים הלכה כמותנו יצאה בת קול ואמרה אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים הן והלכה כב"ה וכי מאחר שאלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים מפני מה זכו ב"ה לקבוע הלכה כמותן מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו ושונין דבריהן ודברי ב"ש ולא עוד אלא שמקדימין דברי ב"ש לדבריהן כאותה ששנינו מי שהיה ראשו ורובו בסוכה ושלחנו בתוך הבית בית שמאי פוסלין וב"ה מכשירין אמרו ב"ה לב"ש לא כך היה מעשה שהלכו זקני ב"ש וזקני ב"ה לבקר את ר' יוחנן בן החורנית ומצאוהו יושב ראשו ורובו בסוכה ושלחנו בתוך הבית אמרו להן בית שמאי (אי) משם ראיה אף הן אמרו לו אם כך היית נוהג לא קיימת מצות סוכה מימיך ללמדך שכל המשפיל עצמו הקב"ה מגביהו וכל המגביה עצמו הקב"ה משפילו כל המחזר על הגדולה גדולה בורחת ממנו וכל הבורח מן הגדולה גדולה מחזרת אחריו וכל הדוחק את השעה שעה דוחקתו וכל הנדחה מפני שעה שעה עומדת לו ת"ר שתי שנים ומחצה נחלקו ב"ש וב"ה הללו אומרים נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא והללו אומרים נוח לו לאדם שנברא יותר משלא נברא נמנו וגמרו נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא עכשיו שנברא יפשפש במעשיו ואמרי לה ימשמש במעשיו
R. Abba stated in the name of Samuel: For three years there was a dispute between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, the former asserting, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’ and the latter contending, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’. Then a bath kol issued announcing, ‘[The utterances of] both are the words of the living God, but the halachah is in agreement with the rulings of Beth Hillel’. Since, however, both are the words of the living God’ what was it that entitled Beth Hillel to have the halachah fixed in agreement with their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of Beth Shammai, and were even so [humble] as to mention the actions of Beth Shammai before theirs, as may be seen from what we have learnt: If a man had his head and the greater part of his body within the sukkah but his table in the house, Beth Shammai ruled [that the booth was] invalid but Beth Hillel ruled that it was valid. Said Beth Hillel to Beth Shammai, ‘Did it not so happen that the elders of Beth Shammai and the elders of Beth Hillel went on a visit to R. Johanan b. Hahoranith and found him sitting with his head and greater part of his body within the sukkah while his table was in the house?’ Beth Shammai replied: From there proof [may be adduced for our view for] they indeed told him, ‘If you have always acted in this manner you have never fulfilled the commandment of sukkah’. This teaches you that him who humbles himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, raises up, and him who exalts himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, humbles; from him who seeks greatness, greatness flees, but him who flees from greatness, greatness follows; he who forces time is forced back by time but he who yields to time finds time standing at his side. Our Rabbis taught: For two and a half years were Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel in dispute, the former asserting that it were better for man not to have been created than to have been created, and the latter maintaining that it is better for man to have been created than not to have been created. They finally took a vote and decided that it were better for man not to have been created than to have been created, but now that he has been created, let him investigate his past deeds or, as others say, let him examine his future actions.
ושונין דבריהן ודברי בית שמאי - כשהיו ב"ש מביאין ראיה לדבריהם מן התורה וב"ה מביאין ראיה ממקרא אחר והיו ב"ה דורשין את המקרא של ב"ש למה בא ולא היה קל בעיניהם כאותה ששנינו במסכת ברכות (ד' י:) ב"ש אומרים בערב כל אדם יטה ויקרא ובבקר יעמוד שנאמר בשכבך ובקומך וב"ה אומרים כל אדם קורא כדרכו שנאמר ובלכתך בדרך אם כן למה נאמר בשכבך ובקומך בשעה שדרך בני אדם שוכבין ובשעה שדרך בני אדם עומדין:
(2) They studied their own rulings and those of Beit Shammai - When Beit Shammai would bring proof to their rulings from the Torah and Beit Hillel would bring proof from another verse, and Beit Hillel would expound the verse of Beit Shammai to show its relevance, and it was not light in their eyes, as they studied in Tractate Berakhot (Berakhot 10b), "Beit Shammai say, In the morning, every man should lean and read [Kiryat Shema'] and in the morning he should stand as it says, (Devarim 6:7) 'When you lie down and when you arise'; and Beit Hillel say, Every man should read as he is, as it says, (Ibid.) 'When you are on the way'. If so, what does it say, 'When you lie down and when you arise'? - [Recite] at the time that people normally lie down and at the time that people normally arise [i.e., in the evening and in the morning]."
(טו) החלק הב' הוא סבילת העלבונות, והנה בפירוש אמרו ז"ל (ר"ה י"ז א): למי נושא עון למי שעובר על פשע, ואמרו עוד (שבת פ"ח ב): הנעלבים ואינם עולבים שומעים חרפתם ואינם משיבים עליהם הכתוב אומר ואוהביו כצאת השמש בגבורתתו (שופטים ה:לא). וספרו מגודל ענוותו של בבא בן בוטא ז"ל (נדרים ס"ו ב): ההוא בר בבל דסליק לא"י נסיב אתתא, א"ל בשילי לי וכו' עד זיל תברי יתהון על רישא דבבא הוה יתיב בבא בן בוטא ודאין דינא, אזלת ותברת יתהון על רישיה, א"ל מה הדין דעבדת? א"ל כך צוני בעלי, אמר עשית רצון בעלך, המקום יוציא ממך שני בנים כבבא בן בוטא. והלל כמו כן ספרו מרוב ענותנותו (שבת ל ב): זה לשונם: ת"ר לעולם יהא אדם ענותן כהלל וכו'. ור' אבהו אחרי רוב ענותו מצא שעדיין לא הגיע להיות ראוי לקרא עניו, זה לשונו (סוטה מ' א): א"ר אבהו מריש הוה אמינא ענותנא אנא, כיון דחזינא לר' אבא דעכו דאמר איהו חד טעמא ואמר אמוריה חד טעמא ולא קפיד, אמינא לאו ענותנא אנא.
(15) Bearing insults: Our Sages of blessed memory have explicitly stated (Rosh Hashanah 17a), "Whose sins does He forgive? The sins of those who overlook the wrong committed against them." And (Shabbat 88b), "Concerning those who are insulted but do not insult in return, who are shamed, but do not shame in return, it is said (Judges 5:31), 'His lovers are like the emerging of the sun in its strength.' " They told of the great Humility of Bava ben Buta (Nedarim 66b): "A Babylonian went up to Israel and got married. One time he said to his wife, `Cook for me ... Go and break them over the head of the door.' While Bava ben Buta was sitting in judgment, she, having mistaken her husband's meaning, broke them over his head. He asked her, 'Why have you done this?' and she answered, 'My husband told me to.' He said, 'You did the will of your husband. May the Presence bring forth from you two sons like Bava ben Buta.' " They spoke likewise of the great Humility of Hillel (Shabbat 30b), "Our Rabbis learned, 'One should always be humble in the manner of Hillel. . .' " And R. Abahu, with all of his Humility, found that he was not yet worthy of being considered Humble (Sotah 40a) : "R. Abahu said, "At first I though I was Humble, but when I saw that R. Abba of Akko gave one reason and his interpreter another, and he still did not become angry. I said to myself, 'I am not humble."'
(2) In the first chapter of Masechet Eiruvin (13b): for what reason did the Beit Hillel merit to establish the Halakha according to them? Because they were calm when they were insulted and they would teach both their teachings and the teachings of the Beit Shamai. Furthermore, they would place the teachings of Beit Shamai before their own, as we learn in our Mishnah (Sukkah 28b): “one whose head and most of him were in the Sukkah, and his table is in the house – Beit Shamai validate and Beit Hillel validate. Beit Hillel said to Beit Shamai: was there not such an incident that the elders of Beit Shamai and the elders of Beit Hillel went to visit Rabbi Yochanan ben Hachorani etc.” From this understand and know that this quality is one who is centered, for one who is centered does not stray from the straight path at all, and he maintains his equilibrium, the opposite of someone who is not centered and because of this strays from equilibrium. And because of this, Beit Hillel merited that the Halakha is established according to them, because they were masters of calmness and they were not like Beit Shamai who acted with strictness, and it is known that strictness because of great anger leads to straying from equilibrium completely, and Halakha is the path which does not stray to the right or left at all – only walking with equilibrium and not swerving to the left or the right, and therefore what we call ‘Halakha’ is called ‘Halakha,’ because one who walks walks in straightness and does not tend from the straight and equal path at all, not to the right and not to the left; and this is the quality of Beit Hillel, that they had this quality in all of their conduct – they wouldn’t stray from equilibrium because they were centered. And don’t say that Beit Shamai weren’t wise, for on the contrary they were very wise and intellectually sharp. Only in the area of Halakha which is the path of the straight it is according to Beit Hillel because they were masters of calmness without veering from the order. And so they were [calm] even when they were insulted, and they taught their words and the words of their friends, and all of this refers to being completely calm, for in the case of other people, when someone says something to him, he is quick to become angry and to insult him back, while in the case of Beit Hillel they had the quality of being calm and did not insult even someone who insulted them. And so too when they taught their teachings and the teachings of Beit Shamai. Furthermore, they would put Beit Shamai’s teachings before their own. In all of these matters they were organized in their actions, and they were not from the group of highly competitive against their friends, and they were from the group that succeeds. And even though Halakhic discussions are nevertheless good, they [Beit Shamai] are not organized, and for matters of Halakha it is required that they not be not organized and are completely balanced. And all of these words that are mentioned [about Beit Hillel], they were well-organized and did not become disorganized. Even though the Halakha is not according to Beit Shamai, nevertheless the words of Beit Shamai are also the words of the Living God, as it is there. And this idea that they were stringent is because the attribute of Beit Shamai is also the attribute of wisdom, as it says: “if you see a Talmud Chacham, he takes vengeance and guards his hatred like a snake, gird him upon your hips”, and this idea we explained in its place, but with regards to Halakha it is fitting to be according to Beit Hillel for Beit Hillel were organized in their actions and did not stray from equilibrium, and therefore it was appropriate for Halakha.