This kind of biography is partially a detective book, and I must constantly hunt for clues. A good comment by Lord David made me realize that I should have explained who I suspected as being the person who pushed Hillel to both his doubts and his rewarding stay at the Essenes. I did not discuss it because I am planning to devote much time to it in both the “History” part and the “Narrative” part, but really, there was no reason not to mention it now; after all, this is not a who-done-it exactly…
The person involved, in my opinion, was Hillel’s dear friend, Menachem, whom you might have met if you read the “narrative” part of the book. Menachem became Hillel’s partner in teaching, but later was replaced by Shamai. The reason for Menachem’s departure has never been established, to my knowledge (though much more research is on the horizon) and while there are some revealing comments about Menachem himself by Josephus, some scholars are not even sure it was the same Menachem. I tend to think it was the same man and working from this assumption, I can see how he could have influenced Hillel in more than one way, positive or negative. Stay tuned!