Rashi explains that out of the great anivus of Hillel, he was meshaneh mipnei hashalom.
1. What does anivus have to do with Hilel's decision to be meshaneh. I would think that it is more closely related to Hillel's middos of ahavah and shalom.
2. Is it mutar to lie on order to avoid conflict?
3. Hillel had to have forseen that observers would be koveia halacha like Bais Shammai (as would have happened if not for Baba ben Buta). So, assuming that it was appropriate to be meshaneh in this case, was it worth risking a mistake in halacha?? Don't we find (by remote and recent history) that Rabbis "stood up" for what they felt was right despite the tremendous machlokes and pirud it created?! Should we not expect Hillel to rank Halacha over shalom?
Yaakov Siegel, miami, florida
1. See Eruvin 13b which relates that Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel disputed for 3 years and each one claimed that the Halachah followed him. Finally a "Bas Kol" went out which announced that "Both these and these are the words of the living Elokim and the Halachah follows Beis Hillel!". The Gemara says that Beis Hillel had the merit that the Halachah should follow them because they were easy-going and were prepared to be insulted, and taught both their opinion and Beis Shamai's opinion and even reported Beis Shamai's words before their own. This teaches that Hash-m raises up anyone who lowers himself and that greatness chases after anyone who runs away from greatness.
Therefore it was his Anivus - his humility that he did not think he was the greatest scholar - which led Hillel not to try and force his opinion on everyone else, so that people would not know that he was bringing an "Olah". This Anivus certainly led to Ahavah and Shalom but it all started from the fact that Hillel was easy-going and prepared to be insulted (which in itself had the effect that his followers also possessed these qualities).
2. See Gemara Yevamos 65b that one is allowed to be Meshaneh for the sake of peace.
3. The Torah states (see Shemos 23:2 and Chulin 11a) that the Halachah follows the opinion of the majority of the scholars. MEIRI here writes that Hillel saw that Beis Shammai's intention was "le'Kanter" (to be argumentative) so he avoided a dispute. Nevertheless the Halachah was decided by the majority decision. When the Gemara says "Gavru Yadam" - "their hand was stronger" - this means that they were in the majority. Presumably there was a major Halachic discussion in the Beis ha'Midrash and the majority of scholars were convinced by the arguments of Beis Hillel's camp. Hillel did not retract from his intention to bring the Korban as an "Olah" but rather he did not say that he was doing this. However he must have continued to argue that one is allowed to do Semichah on an Olah on Yom Tov. Eruvin 13b (quoted above in 1.) tells us that the way to win a Halachic argument is to be humble, but of course this also goes hand-in-hand with arguing one's position clearly and strongly.
It is said that one of the reasons that Rabbi Yosef Karo had the merit to write the Shulchan Aruch, which is universally accepted as the Halachic guide for the whole of Klal Yisrael, is because he never attacked other scholars and was very humble. All the Halachic authorities who have been lastingly accepted throughout the generations showed great humlity, although they were not hesitant to defend their case courageously.