The great Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, lived in the land of Israel in the first century BCE. The Talmud, Shabbat 31a, relates the following story:
A prospective convert to Judaism asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. Hillel replied: “That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go forth and study.”
I learned this story as a child in Yeshiva Flatbush elementary school. The lesson created a profound moral landscape. It also taught the importance of brevity, the ability to neatly summarize complex thoughts.
Torah education is great preparation for a screenwriter.
I was thinking about this story the other day when a friend from the movie business, an agent, asked me why I was a Conservative. We were on the phone, both of us rushed, there was not a great deal of time.
I pondered a moment, took a deep breath and said:
“Liberals believe in rights for selected groups that leads to an outcome engineered by the state. Conservatives believe in equal opportunity for all individuals where the state gets out of the way. Liberals champion rights; Conservatives freedom. Now, go read The Constitution.”
My friend said nothing for a long moment, then asked me if I thought Warhorse, the new Spielberg movie, would go through the roof.