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Rabbi Akiva: Life, Teachings, and Legacy (Year 9)

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Doniel Karp

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29 Questions

What was Rabbi Akiva's role in Jewish tradition?

He formed a crucial link in the chain of transmission of Jewish tradition that began with Moses and continues to this very day.

What was the reason for Rabbi Akiva's execution by the Romans?

Teaching Torah.

What was unique about Rabbi Akiva's interpretation of the Torah?

He explained every single letter of the Torah, even the little crowns that adorn many of the letters of the Torah.

What was Rabbi Akiva's reputation among the sages?

He was considered one of the greatest scholars of all times.

What was Rabbi Akiva's occupation before he became a scholar?

A shepherd

What was the condition Rachel gave to marry Akiva?

That he would leave her father's work to go and study Torah

How did Rachel support herself and her husband while Akiva was studying Torah?

She worked hard with her own hands, and even sold her own hair to buy food

What was the significance of the poor man who came to Akiva and Rachel's shack?

He was the Prophet Elijah, who came to test Akiva's good heart

What inspired Akiva to begin studying the Torah?

The effect of drops of water on a stone

How many years did Akiva spend studying at the academy of Rabbi Eliezer?

Twelve years

What was Rachel's response to her neighbor's taunting about her husband's absence?

She said she would wait for him even if he stayed away for another twelve years

What was the outcome of Rabbi Akiva's twenty-four years of study?

He became the most famous of all living scholars

How many pupils did Rabbi Akiva have?

He had 24,000 pupils

What is the significance of Rabbi Akiva's comparison of his learning to the fragrance of an etrog?

It suggests that his learning is not diminished by sharing it with others.

What was the significance of Rabbi Akiva's students, particularly Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and Rabbi Chanina ben Chakinai?

They were among the greatest Rabbis of the next generation.

What was Rabbi Akiva's occupation after receiving a fortune from his father-in-law?

He bought and sold diamonds and precious stones.

Why did the 'poor' man buy the precious pearl from Rabbi Akiva?

To pound it into a fine powder to mix with certain medicines to give to the poor.

Why did the 'poor' man dress poorly and sit among the poor?

To avoid being proud and to be able to find his place among the poor if he lost his wealth.

What blessing did Rabbi Akiva give to the 'poor' man?

To live long and remain rich all his life, so that he could continue to do good in his wonderful way.

What was Rabbi Akiva's response to the Romans' prohibition on studying the Torah and observing the mitzvot?

He continued to teach his pupils, despite the risk.

Why did Rabbi Akiva's father-in-law give him his fortune?

To make up for the way he treated Rabbi Akiva when he was a poor, ignorant shepherd.

What lesson did Rabbi Akiva draw from the passage in Koheleth 11:6, and how does it relate to his own life?

Rabbi Akiva explained it to mean that one should teach disciples in their youth and continue to teach in their old age. This lesson is reflected in his own life as he continued to teach and share his wisdom even in his old age.

What is the significance of Rabbi Akiva's saying, 'A fence to wisdom is silence'?

This saying suggests that silence and quiet contemplation are essential for gaining wisdom and understanding.

What is the central idea behind Rabbi Akiva's comparison of the world to a store?

Rabbi Akiva compares the world to a store where everyone can come and 'buy' things on credit, but ultimately, payment will be exacted, suggesting that our actions have consequences and we will be held accountable for them.

What can be inferred about Rabbi Akiva's view of G-d's role in human life from his saying, 'Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is given'?

Rabbi Akiva's saying suggests that while G-d has a plan, humans still have free will and are responsible for their choices.

How does Rabbi Akiva's daughter's actions on the eve of her wedding demonstrate the value of tzedakah (charity)?

Rabbi Akiva's daughter's selfless act of giving her portion of the wedding feast to a hungry poor man demonstrates the value of tzedakah and its potential to bring about miraculous salvation.

What can be inferred about Rabbi Akiva's approach to teaching and learning from his sayings in Pirkei Avot?

Rabbi Akiva's sayings in Pirkei Avot suggest that he emphasized the importance of living a virtuous life, practicing self-restraint, and recognizing the value of human life as created in the image of G-d.

What is the significance of Rabbi Akiva's saying, 'Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of G-d'?

This saying highlights the value and dignity of human life, emphasizing that humans are created in the image of G-d and are therefore worthy of respect and love.

What can be inferred about Rabbi Akiva's view of the nature of G-d from his saying, 'Whatever G-d does is for the best'?

Rabbi Akiva's saying suggests that he believes that G-d is benevolent and that everything that happens is ultimately for the good, even if we may not understand it at the time.

Study Notes

Rabbi Akiva's Life

  • Rabbi Akiva was a prolific and inspiring teacher of Judaism, forming a crucial link in the chain of transmission of Jewish tradition.
  • He taught and led during the tumultuous years of the destruction of the Second Holy Temple.
  • He was executed by the Romans for the "crime" of teaching Torah.

Rabbi Akiva's Early Life

  • Rabbi Akiva was born as the child of a very poor family and became an ignorant shepherd.
  • He was married to Rachel, the daughter of Kalba Sabua, a wealthy man.
  • Rachel, who had observed Rabbi Akiva's potential, married him secretly, on the condition that he would leave her father's work to study Torah.

Rabbi Akiva's Studies

  • Rabbi Akiva left his wife to study Torah, and Rachel supported him, working hard to earn a living.
  • He spent 12 years studying Torah in the academy of Rabbi Eliezer, becoming one of the most learned men of his time.
  • During his studies, Rachel waited for him, earning a living and supporting him, and even cut off her beautiful long hair to sell it to buy bread.

Rabbi Akiva's Teachings

  • He taught that the Torah is endless, and that one's responsibility is all the greater.
  • He said, "Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is given, and the world is judged with grace, yet all is according to the amount of work accomplished."
  • He compared the world to a store, where everybody can come and buy things on credit, but everything is recorded in a ledger, and payment will have to be made.

Rabbi Akiva's Students

  • He had 24,000 students, including Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai, whose Yahrzeit is observed on Lag B'Omer.
  • He believed that one should teach disciples in their youth and not stop teaching in their old age.

Rabbi Akiva's Humility

  • Despite his vast knowledge, Rabbi Akiva was very humble, knowing that the Torah is endless.
  • He said, "All my learning is no more than like the fragrance of an etrog; the one who smells it enjoys it, but the etrog loses nothing."

Rabbi Akiva's Daughter

  • Rabbi Akiva's daughter once went to the market and overheard a star-gazer predicting that she would die on her wedding day.
  • However, she was saved from a poisonous snake on her wedding day due to her kindness to a poor man, illustrating the power of Tzedakah (charity).

Rabbi Akiva's Business Ventures

  • After becoming a great man, Rabbi Akiva's father-in-law, Kalba Sabua, gave him all his fortune.
  • Rabbi Akiva used to buy and sell diamonds and precious stones to earn his own living.
  • He once sold a precious pearl to a man who turned out to be very rich and kind, using the pearl to create medicine for the poor.

Rabbi Akiva in Prison

  • Rabbi Akiva was arrested by the Romans for teaching Torah and was put into prison.
  • He continued to observe the mitzvot, even in prison, and was willing to die of thirst rather than eat with unwashed hands.

Learn about Rabbi Akiva, a prominent teacher of Judaism, who played a crucial role in transmitting Jewish tradition. Discover his life, teachings, and legacy, and how he defied the Romans to teach Torah.

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