[3], If the older Halakha is to be considered as the product of the internal struggle between Phariseeism and Sadduceeism, the Halacha of Akiva must be conceived as the result of an external contest between Judaism on the one hand and Hellenism and Hellenistic Christianity on the other. Rabbi Akiva was a leading contributor to the Mishnah and to Midrash halakha. Co… "[3][53] For, in spite of his philosophy, Akiva was an extremely strict and national Jew. "[3][52] He does not, indeed, maintain thereby that the execution of this command is equivalent to the performance of the whole Law; and in one of his polemic interpretations of Scripture he protests strongly against a contrary opinion allegedly held by Christians, and other non-Jews since the diaspora, according to which Judaism is at best "simply morality. [3][40] Rebbe Akiva's modern day tomb is located in Tiberias. death of rabbi akiva's students The accepted explanation for this transformation of a joyful period into a time of mourning is the demise of the students of Rabbi Akiva: The practice is not to get married between Passover and Shavuot – until Lag B'Omer, because during this time the students of Rabbi Akiva perished. [62] Akiva stoutly defended, however, the canonicity of the Song of Songs, and Esther. Jewish sources relate that he was subjected to combing, a Roman torture in which the victim's skin was flayed with iron combs. All one can do is to remain silent, as Aharon did in the face of tragedy. His death--with the Shema on his lips--became the model for martyrs throughout Jewish history, and his story is even included in … Rabbi Akiva and the Tragic Death of his Talmidim Part 1 - Duration: 22:30. some deep reference to philosophical and ethical doctrines, Akiva perceived in them indications of many important ceremonial laws, legal statutes, and ethical teachings. The most common version of Akiva's death is that the Roman government ordered him to stop teaching Torah, on pain of death, and that he refused. Without a murmur he resigned himself to this hardship; and even when a lion devoured his donkey, and a cat killed the rooster whose crowing was to herald the dawn to him, and the wind extinguished his candle, the only remark he made was, "All that God does is for the good." On the death of R. Eliezer, R. Akiva was distraught over the loss of such a great master of Torah. I believe that both reasons for the death of Rabbi Akiva's students can be read harmoniously. Examples include the oil and the flour of the korban mincha, the two goats—one for G-d and one for Azazel—of Yom Kippur, the four species of the lulav, the two parshiot of the mezuzah, and the four parshiot of the tefillin. [3], Tinnius Rufus asked: "Which is the more beautiful—God's work or man's?" We might hope that after living so troubled yet heroic a life, R. Akiva and Rachel would at last settle down to live happily ever after. 137 CE) lived through the destruction of the second Holy Temple, and his students passed away sometime after the destruction. Then he said the Shema, he extended the final word Echad ("One") until his life expired with that word. Yet G-d, rather shockingly, tells Moshe, “Shut up[4]: This is My decree.” Moshe then asks to see Rabbi Akiva’s reward, and is shown his flesh being weighed at the market-stalls. [41] Annually, on the night of Lag BaOmer, Boston Chassidim and local residents gather at the tomb of Rebbe Akiva to light a bonfire, a tradition reinstated by the Bostoner Rebbe in 1983. When faced with such hatred would I have the fortitude to respond with love? With Yom Kippur being a happy day, its recital is meant to both atone for and inspire us. asked Akiva. In Tractate Yevamos it states that they died because they didn’t give honor to one another; however in Medrash Raba, Rebbi Akiva told his later students that the earlier ones died because they were envious of one another. The Sages taught: One time, after the bar Kokheva rebellion, the evil empire of Rome decreed that Israel may not engage in the study and practice of Torah. he expired. Still less could dogma serve the purpose, for dogmas were always repellent to rabbinical Judaism, whose very essence is development and the susceptibility to development. Numerous tragedies occurred in Jewish history at this time of year, and the earliest one recorded in the Talmud was the death of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during the Hadrianic era of the second century CE. In-depth Yerushalmi Daf Yomi shiurim. It was cast upon the shore close to the house of Akiva's creditor, so that when the matrona went to the shore to demand of the sea the amount she had lent Akiva, the ebbing tide left boundless riches at her feet. When they arrived, Elijah and Joshua entered a cavern that contained a bed, table, chair, and lamp, and deposited Akiva's body there. The death throes of their teacher, the saintly Rabbi Eliezer, wrenched sobs from the throats of the sages. [3][4] According to some sources, he was descended from converts to Judaism.[5]. This probably would have been the case had not Akiva created his own Midrash, by means of which he was able "to discover things that were even unknown to Moses. Rabbi Akiva laughed. He is also sometimes credited with redacting Abraham's version of the Sefer Yetzirah, one of the central texts of Jewish mysticism. A heavenly voice went out and announced: "Blessed are you, Rabbi Akiva, that your life expired with "Echad". Rebbi Akiva had 24,000 students; they died from a plague during the period between Pesach and Shavuos. Rabbi Akiva had a second great handicap. He then spilled out half the water. A similar piyut is recited on Tisha B’Av, though the purpose of each—and hence, the piyyutim themselves—differs. Rabbi Akiva (sometimes spelled Akiba) is considered to be one of the greatest rabbinic sages, yet the biographical details of his life remain somewhat of a mystery. They all died between Pesach and Lag B’Omer from a horrible and painful death known as askara, which can be translated as either croup or diphtheria. [16], Akiva is reported to have had a rabbinic relationship with Rabban Gamaliel dated to before their trip to Rome. [3][65], Aquila, meanwhile, was a disciple of Akiva and, under Akiva's guidance, gave the Greek-speaking Jews a rabbinical Bible. [29] During his travels, it is probable that he visited other places having important Jewish communities. For other uses, see. The Talmud relates that once Elijah the prophet assumed the guise of a poor man and came to their door to beg some straw for a bed for his wife[3] after she had given birth. And G-d asks us to accept, even if we cannot understand, that He does not always do so in the manner that we would like[5]. In the language of the Torah nothing is mere form; everything is essence. The greatest tannaim of the middle of the second century came from Akiva's school, notably Rabbi Meir, Judah bar Ilai, Simeon bar Yochai, Jose ben Halafta, Eleazar ben Shammai, and Rabbi Nehemiah. He was executed by the Romans in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt. Akiva, being sick, could not return the money at the time appointed; but his bondsmen did not leave him in the lurch. [3][30], Akiva allegedly took part in the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–136, but his role here cannot be historically determined. All of this (one vs. many) is when the solitary view is the lenient position, and the many take the stringent view. The Death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 Students the Omer By Nachum Mohl The period of the Omer, which is the time between Passover and the Shavuot holiday, is a time that marriages are not performed. Akiva asked him, "Would you have made your vow if you had known that he would become a great scholar?" He was incarcerated and tried by the Romans for his “crime” of publicly teaching Torah. Akiva and his wife lived in such poverty that they used straw for their bed. As the fundamental principle of his system, Akiva enunciates his conviction that the mode of expression used by the Torah is quite different from that of every other book. [84] For similar reasons, Akiva comes near abolishing the Biblical ordinance of Kil'ayim; nearly every chapter in the treatise of that name contains a mitigation by Akiva. "Toward a Profile of a Tanna, Aqiba ben Joseph. Take your Daf to the next level! It's R. Akiva vs. the sages, in this case (whether one sits shiva if the news arrives more than 30 days after the day of the death). She offered to marry him if he would agree to begin studying Torah, as at the time he was 40 years old and illiterate. He believed that Bar Kokhba was the Moshiach (messiah), though some other rabbis openly ridiculed him for that belief (the Talmud records another rabbi as saying, "Akiva, grass will grow in your cheeks and still the son of David will not have come.") He would make a living by cutting wood from the forest, selling half for his wife's and children's upkeep, and using the other half for keeping a fire burning at night to keep himself warm and to provide light thereby for his own studies. On Tisha B’Av, it is included as part of the mourning process on the saddest day of the year. According to another source,[19] Akiva saw that at some future time he would take in marriage the wife of Turnus Rufus (his executioner, also known as Quintus Tineius Rufus) after she converted to Judaism, for which reason he spat on the ground (for having come from a fetid drop), smiled (at her conversion) and wept (at such beauty eventually rotting in the dust after death). Not knowing who he was, Ben Kalba Sabu'a also approached Akiva and asked him for help annulling his vow to disown his daughter and her husband. [3] Some modern scholars argue that Akiva's thousands of students died fighting for Bar Kochba, but this opinion was first formulated by Nachman Krochmal around 200 years ago and has no earlier source. Horrified, Moses demands God explain His actions, at which point God commands Moses to be silent and respect His judgement. "[3][74] Akiva made the accumulated treasure of the oral law—which until his time was only a subject of knowledge, and not a science—an inexhaustible mine from which, by the means he provided, new treasures might be continually extracted. Akiva, however, was not to be turned from his purpose; he sought the son of the tax-gatherer and labored long and assiduously in teaching him the word of God. Even at this moment of pain so close to the end he was striving to understand and make meaning. That the death of Rabbi Akiva is discussed in masechet Menachot highlights the beautifully discursive, yet precisely edited, nature of … He had to go with his young child to school to learn to read the Hebrew alphabet. Akiva said to him, "I am that man". Originally meant as an oral text, the Mishnah—attentive to the need for memorization—then lists other mitzvot where a missing part renders the mitzvah “unfulfillable”, beginning with those related to korbanot and then moving to unrelated areas of Jewish law. - A worker who goes out with his basket. [22][23] Convinced of the necessity of a central authority for Judaism, Akiva became a devoted adherent and friend of Rabban Gamaliel, who aimed at constituting the patriarch the true spiritual chief of the Jews. [3], Akiva sought to apply the system of isolation followed by the Pharisees (פרושים = those who "separate" themselves) to doctrine as they did to practice, to the intellectual life as they did to that of daily discourse, and he succeeded in furnishing a firm foundation for his system. After being transported to Rabbi Akiva’s Beit Midrash, Moshe is so impressed with Rabbi Akiva that he asks G-d why He does not give the Torah through Rabbi Akiva? He says to them, "All my life I was worried about the verse, 'with all your soul' (and the sages expounded this to signify), even if He takes away your soul. [3][51] Similarly, he recognizes as the chief and greatest principle of Judaism the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Amazing Shas Resource. One can make just one little mistake in a computer code of thousands of elements and the program will not work; similarly, a single mutation in one of the billions of cells in the body can be deadly. "Seasons: The Bostoner Rebbetzin remembers and reflects on the occasion of the first yahrtzeit of Grand Rabbi Levi Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz, ztz"l, 18 Kislev 5771". These legends set the beginning of his years of study at about 75–80. !” The most famous of those killed by the Romans was undoubtedly Rabbi Akiva. Breaking this rule! [55] Hence his maxim, referred to above, "God rules the world in mercy, but according to the preponderance of good or bad in human acts. Rabbi Akiva's Death . The Talmud records him as saying that he had such hatred for Torah scholar… Mention has already been made of the fact that Akiva was the creator of a rabbinical Bible version elaborated with the aid of his pupil, Aquila (though this is traditionally debated), and designed to become the common property of all Jews. He Died a Hero’s Death. After fasting 40 days and praying to God to bless his efforts, he heard a heavenly voice (bat kol) asking, "Why do you go to so much trouble on behalf of this person?" [17] Returning at the end of twelve years accompanied by 12,000 disciples, on the point of entering his home he overheard his wife say to a neighbor who was critical of his long absence: "If I had my wish, he should stay another twelve years at the academy." No wonder the Mishnah (Taanit 26b) declares Yom Kippur to be the happiest day of the year. He expected the world to end in AM 6093 (i.e., 6093 years after the Creation). […] Rabbi Akiva laughed. Rabbi Akiva hears his wife's reply: "If he would listen to me, he would go back [to his place of sacred studies] for another 12 years." Akiva stopped him and inquired: "My son, why do you work so hard? Besides Eliezer, Akiva studied under Joshua ben Hananiah[6] and Nachum Ish Gamzu. The Shulchan Aruch tells us it is because of the terrible disaster that befell the disciples of Rabbi Akiva who had twenty-four thousand talmidim. He considered friendly intercourse with these semi-Jews as desirable on political as well as on religious grounds, and he permitted—in opposition to tradition—not only eating their bread,[81] but also eventual intermarriage. Yet as a breakaway from Judaism, it is only to be expected that Christianity borrowed much from it. The Bible could never again fill the place alone; for the Christians also regarded it as a divine revelation. He finds wheat - he puts it in, barley - he puts it in, spelt - he puts it in, beans - he puts it in, lentils - he puts it in. Our Sages (Moed Katan 28a) teach that the death of the righteous atones[1], and it is thus hard to think of anything more appropriate to recite on the Day of Atonement. Yerushalmi Ta'anit, 4 68d; also Sanhedrin 93b in Yad HaRav Herzog manuscript, Mekhilta Mishpaṭim 18, where Akiva regards the martyrdom of two of his friends as ominous of his own fate. Ben Kalba Sabu'a fell at Akiva's feet and gave him half his wealth.[16][18]. [3], It might be thought that with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem—which event made an end of Sadduceeism—the halakhic Midrash would also have disappeared, seeing that the Halakha could now dispense with the Midrash. It has nothing superfluous; not a word, not a syllable, not even a letter. [3], But this was not sufficient to obviate all threatening danger. Upon his inquiry as to what these might be for, he received the answer, "There will come a man, named Akiva ben Yosef, who will deduce halakhot from every little curve and crown of the letters of the Law." The δευτερώσεις τοῦ καλουμένου Ραββὶ Ακιβά (Mishnah of the one called "Rabbi Akiva") mentioned by Epiphanius,[69] as well as the "great Mishnayot of Akiva",[70] are probably not to be understood as independent Mishnayot (δευτερώσεις) existing at that time, but as the teachings and opinions of Akiva contained in the officially recognized Mishnayot and Midrashim. [97] Another version of this story exists in which Johanan ben Zakkai's name is given in place of Akiva. But R. Akiva understood what R. Eliezer had to offer differently than R. Eliezer. He returned twelve years later escorted by 24,000 disciples. Here, the context is not the superhuman faith of Rabbi Akiva, but the seeming unfairness of G-d’s justice in allowing Rabbi Akiva to meet such a tragic and tortuous end. A band of robbers had fallen upon the city and carried its inhabitants into captivity, but he had escaped because his abiding place had not been noticed in the darkness, and neither beast nor fowl had betrayed him. Rabbi Akiva died a martyr's death at the hands of the Romans in the early years of the second century of the Common Era. is his basic principle in the doctrine concerning law,[3][59] and he does not conceal his opinion that the action of the Jews in taking the spoil of the Egyptians is to be condemned. Without crossing the threshold, Akiva went back to the academy. [3][60], Akiva was instrumental in drawing up the canon of the Tanakh. [73], Admirable as is the systematization of the Halakha by Akiva, his hermeneutics and halakhic exegesis—which form the foundation of all Talmudic learning—surpassed it. Rabbi Akiva laughed, knowing that if one prophecy came to be — the destruction and desecration of the Temple — then the prophecy of Zecharia … Whatever the child says will determine if we must read from a new sefer Torah. The neighbors very freely expressed their opinion that the deceased and his wife deserved to inhabit the infernal regions for all time—the latter because she had not even performed brit milah for the child. ), Regarding both mezuzah and tefillin, the Mishnah (Menachot 28a) teaches that, “even one letter holds back the mitzvah.” One can have the most beautiful of mezuzot, but if just one letter is missing—or even just written improperly—one is left with nothing more than some parchment with some words on it.[2]. [3][49] This view of Akiva's, in spite of the energetic protests of his colleague Rabbi Ishmael, became the one generally accepted by his contemporaries. [27], In 95–96, Akiva was in Rome,[3][28] and some time before 110 he was in Nehardea. But he was not opposed to a private reading of the Apocrypha,[3] as is evident from the fact that he himself makes frequent use of Sirach. The fact that Eliezer was his first teacher, and the only one whom Akiva later designates as "rabbi", is of importance in settling the date of Akiva's birth. "Is there no help for you?" G-d may grant atonement, but at the same time, not answer our prayers as we would like. His students asked him: “Our master, even now? Akiva ascertained that the royal chamber was adorned with white marble statuary, and, based on the theory that a child is similar in nature to whatever its parents gazed upon while conceiving the child, he exonerated the queen from suspicion. [3][66] Akiva probably also provided for a revised text of the Targums; certainly, for the essential base of the Targum Onkelos, which in matters of Halakah reflects Akiva's opinions completely.[3][67]. RABBI AKIVA: SAGE OF THE TALMUD By Barry W. Holtz Yale University Press, 248 pages, $25. However, Moses' spirit was revived when a student asked Akiva the source of a law, and Akiva replied "A law to Moses at Sinai". The following two illustrations will serve to make this clear:[3], His hermeneutics frequently put him at odds with the letter of the law, as particularly demonstrated by his attitude toward the Samaritans. The Talmud (Brachot 61b) describes Rabbi Akiva’s bitter end. David Mahler 57 views. Akiva inquired the man's name and that of his wife and her dwelling-place. Rabbi Akiva was a leading contributor to the Mishnah and to Midrash halakha. As we have previously noted, the first of the four steps of a korban mincha is the kemitza, where the kohen takes a handful of flour—not more and not less—to be burnt on the altar. We will touch on just part of the story now, and, please G-d, will return to this story in our next post. "No mercy in [civil] justice!" [86] This story gives a picture of Akiva's activity as the father of Talmudic Judaism. [3] and in which Akiva dedicated himself to the study of Torah. If it be out of poverty that you do this, I will take care of your needs." [3][96] This legend has been somewhat elaborately treated in Yiddish. G-d does not answer Moshe’s questions; perhaps because there is no answer, at least from a human perspective. [58] Consistent as Akiva always was, his ethics and his views of justice were only the strict consequences of his philosophical system. According to some sources, he was descended from converts to Judaism. Akiva had an answer ready: "For the very reason, the duty of man is to perfect himself. Legendary allusion to this change in Akiva's life is made in two slightly varying forms. [3][11] Akiva also lived for some time at Ziphron,[12] modern Zafran[13] near Hamath. So did Rabbi Akiva; he arranged the Torah rings by rings. The great scholar, who had supported Bar Kochba in his revolt against Rome, gathered people together and gave public Torah lectures. [42], A tannaitic tradition mentions that of the four who entered paradise, Akiva was the only one that returned unscathed. For our purposes, the story begins with Moshe asking G-d why He is putting crowns on certain letters of the sefer Torah. ", This page was last edited on 11 January 2021, at 22:16. As Rav Soloveitchik noted, mourning is fundamentally meant as an act of teshuva. It was to be feared that the Jews, by their facility in accommodating themselves to surrounding —even then a marked characteristic—might become entangled in the net of Grecian philosophy, and even in that of Gnosticism. [98], "Akiva" redirects here. As his skin was being torn from his body, Rabbi Akiva spent his final moments on earth reciting the שמע ישראל. "Because he is just the kind to work for," was the prompt answer. No sooner had they left it than the cavern closed of its own accord, so that no one has found it since. [3][26] Various rabbinic texts testify to his personal qualities, such as benevolence and kindness toward the sick and needy. "[3], Concerning end times, Akiva interpreted Bible prophecy using what is now called the historicist methodology, which recognizes the day-year principle and the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 (i.e., Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece and Rome). [1] This idea is the foundational principle of Christianity and thus, many feel it is somehow un-Jewish. [3][34] As this story credits the execution to religious rather than political reasons, it may be evidence against Akiva's having a role in the revolt. Naturally, the Gemara then discusses what exactly renders a letter kosher or not[3]. The story of his death is recorded in masechet Brachot (61b) in connection with the mitzvah of loving G-d—something Rabbi Akiva was able to do despite, or might we say, because he was being martyred. “Just as He is compassionate and merciful, so, too, should you be compassionate and merciful” (Shabbat 133a). The story of his death is recorded in masechet Brachot (61b) in connection with the mitzvah of loving G-d—something Rabbi Akiva was able to do despite, or might we say, because he was being martyred. An imperial princess suddenly became insane, in which condition she threw a chest containing imperial treasures into the sea. [39], Another legend is that Elijah bore the body by night to Caesarea. Upon seeing this, Moshe exclaimed, "Lord of the Universe, this is the Torah and this is the reward!’ Once again, G-d tells him, “Shut up: This is My decree.”. The ninth of Tishrei, just before Yom Kippur, marked the day on which Rabbi Akiva ben-Yosef was publicly executed by Rome.. 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