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Thus it once was that the students of Hillel and the students of Shammai were split over a particular aspect of a mikva. For a long time they disputed, each one giving his reasons and trying to prove his point to the other.

They were unable to resolve the dispute and the rabbis were at a loss how to act. Should they rule according to Hille or according to Shammai? There were simply no clear-cut answers.


Finally, as they were puzzling over it they were surprised to see that a group of weavers, among the poorest and most ignorant of the people of Yerushalayim came before them.

“We have heard of the dispute,” they said, “and we would like to say tha we have a definite tradition from the great Shmaya and Avtalyon that the law is like neither Hillel now Shammai but such and such.”

When the rabbis heard the tradition they immediately overruled both and Hillel and Shammai are ruled like the weavers.

Thus, the honor of Torah took precedence over even the two greats, Hillel and Shammai.