A Talmudic Answering Machine Message
"Hello, this is the law offices of Hillel and Shammai. Please leave
your name, number and brief message at the beep. These are the words
of Hillel. Shammai says, leave your message first, and then your name
and number, but both are the words of the living God."
That doesn't sit right. Shammai would never say to leave your message
first and then your name, making the recipient rely on the hope of
recognizing your voice to know how to interpret the message (the same
words, such as references to children and spouses and employers, will
mean different things from different people).
No, Shammai would have said to leave your name first, then your number
to complete the frame of reference and background information, and
then your message. Hillel would have said, since messages are easier
to remember than telephone numbers, leave your name first, then your
message, and then a number at which you can be reached LAST so that it
will be freshest in the listener's memory, unobscured by surprises in
the message, in case the listener wishes to dial right away or cannot
write it down. But this is valid, and that is valid.
Follow-ups on the Hillel/Shammai answering machine debate to
soc.culture.jewish, but wait until Chol Hammo`ed Sukkoth so that people
will be in a Simchat Torah mood. Shnat brakhah v'hatzlachah.