A thought occurred to me, and I would like to know if there are any sources that mention this:
When the three nochriim met, they said that the patience of Hillel was better than the response of Shamai. Yes, it was better for the three of them, but how did they know that it would be better for all people? To know this, they would have to show that Hillel's response was better for all types of personalities.
In the nations of the world, there are three personality types: Shem, Cham and Yafes. The first nochri asked about torah she ba'al peh -- an intellectual question appropriate to the personality of Shem. The second nochri asked to learn Torah quickly and immediately, and emotional request appropriate to Cham. The third nochri was attracted to the beautiful bigdei kahunah, an aesthetic orientation characteriustic of yafes.
Thus -- since all three personality types were involved, they could show that Hillel's response was better in all cases.
Does this make any sense? Are there any sources that bring down of confirm this idea?
Thanks for your help.
-- Andy Goldfinger
Baltimore, Maryland, USA0.
That is a very original and insightful explanation! I have not seen similar ideas in other sources.