Silver Rule

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The Silver Rule, "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you", is a standard of behaviour found in the writings of, amongst others, Hillel the Elder (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). It is also found in Tobit 4,15. Carl Sagan refers to it as the converse of the ethical principle of the Golden Rule.[1] Robert J Spitzer refers to it as the foundation of all ethics.[2]

Hillel the Elder (c. 110 BCE – 10 CE),[3] draw upon the famous Jewish verse "Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18[4]) as he was challenged by a man, according to Jewish Tradition, who asked to be converted under the condition that the Torah be explained to him while he stood on one foot. Hillel accepted the man and—giving him his first lesson—responded in this way:[5][6]

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

A certain part of the Hippocratic Oath may be reminiscent of the ethics of the Silver Rule. Hippocrates wrote, in his Epidemics, Bk. I, Sect. XI. "As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least to do no harm."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sagan, Carl (1997). "16 The rules of the game". Billions and billions: thoughts on life and death at the brink of the millennium. Balantine Books. pp. 219–229. ISBN 0-345-37918-7. 
  2. ^ Spitzer, Robert J. (2011). Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. pp. 21 – 22. ISBN 978-1-58617-475-0. 
  3. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Hillel: "His activity of forty years is perhaps historical; and since it began, according to a trustworthy tradition (Shab. 15a), one hundred years before the destruction of Jerusalem, it must have covered the period 30 B.C.E. -10 C.E."
  4. ^ New JPS Hebrew/English Tanakh
  5. ^ "Hillel". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Valentine, Carol A. "Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath Folio 31a". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 

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