Philosophy and Theology

Volume 26, Issue 1, 2014

Mark Glouberman
Pages 187-206

On One Leg
The Stability of Monotheism

A potential proselyte asks Hillel to explain the Torah “while I stand on one leg.” The Talmudic anecdote is always read as critical of those who want a Torah for Dummies. I offer an alternative. The Torah’s position rests on one principle alone, God. “Won’t an account of the creation that rests only on one principle teeter, like a person on one leg?” Hillel’s response homes in on what God does and what pagan deities cannot do. But God’s contribution, while needed to account for the human sector of the creation, cannot manage the extra-human sector. Required for that is a pagan principle. The whole can stand steadily only on two legs. So the proselyte’s conversion cannot be unreserved.