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February 19, 2017 4:13 pm

Actor Ashton Kutcher Recounts Talmudic Tale During Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Human Trafficking

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Ashton Kutcher at the Senate. Photo: Screenshot.

Ashton Kutcher at the Senate. Photo: Screenshot.

Actor Ashton Kutcher recounted a Talmudic tale on Wednesday after testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during an informal hearing on human trafficking.

“[B]eing here today, I was reminded of a story a friend of mine told me about a rabbi named Hillel, who was asked to explain the Torah while standing on one leg. And he said, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself. Everything else is just commentary,’” Kutcher, a longtime student of Kabbalah, told Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker.

Kutcher– who was at the session as the co-founder of the initiative “Thorn: Tech Innovation to Fight Child Sexual Exploitation,” which he established in 2009 with his then-wife actress Demi Moore – got the story slightly wrong, but his sentiment was received in the spirit in which it was clearly intended.

The actual tale is about the sage Hillel who was approached by a gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism, but only on condition that a rabbi would teach him the entire Torah while he, the prospective convert, stood on one leg.

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Rabbi Hillel said to the man, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this; now go and study it.”

Kutcher, who is not Jewish, has visited Israel many times. In 2013, he called the country “near and dear to my heart,” saying that going there was like “coming back to the source of creation.”

Watch Kutcher’s statement below:

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  • Neil Hyams

    As I recollect the tale..it was a King in olden times, who ordered the Rabbi to appear before him and explain the Torah to him in one sentence whilst standing on one leg, upon pain of death if he couldn’t answer. The Rabbi responsed whilst duly standing on one leg ‘Whatever you wouldn’t like done to you…don’t do it to anyone else !’ The Rabbi survived. My version comes from one of the many Tales of the Hasidim…I wonder where Mr. Kutcher’s comes from 😀

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