Rabbi Akiva

200px-akiva_eger.jpgOut of all famous Kabbalists, I have been always fascinated the most with the character of Rabi Akiva. I can’t say exactly why, but from the moment that I heard his story – the story of someone who started to study Torah at age 45, became the greatest of his generation with over 25,000 students – the story of true love between man and woman, the story of personal sacrifices and dedication to find the truth and attain the Creator, made great impression on me.

I therefore was shocked when I heard that some entities firmly state that Rabbi Akiva was not Jewish, and use this as excuse to push Kabbalah to masses. I bought a book that clarified the history of Rabbi Akiva, who’s grandfather converted to Judaism and thus Rabbi Akiva was 100% Jewish. I highly recommend the book, and even though it’s narrated in easy language it paints a vivid picture of the life of his truly amazing character. LINK TO BOOK 

My Rav was also surprised to hear such statement, but unlike me he pointed to exact sources that talk about the history of Rabbi Akiva. Here is what he wrote to me on this topic

*Regarding the  absurd idea that Rebbe Akiva was a goy; In the middle of a discussion in the Gemarah Mesechtas Brachos daf chaf zion amud bais (page 27b) it says regarding Rebbe Akiva “deles ley zchoos avos” “that he doesn’t have the merit of Forefathers” . One of the Meforshim on that page of Gemorah, Rav Nissim Gaon, explains that this comment is in conjunction with a different Gemorah were it says that “there are   from the children’s children of Sisrah (a non-Jew),that studied Torah in Jerusalem” which is referring to Rebbe Akiva. We see then that rebbe Akiva was the descendent of a convert and that is why he is lacking the merit of Forefathers. The Rambam states that it was actually Rebbe Akivas Father who converted to become a Jew. In any case it is quite clear that our Teacher the Holy Rebbe Akiva was Jewish !!”

I hope this clarifies the topic a bit. At any rate, if you have anything interesting to add – I’m always hungry to learn more about Rabbi Akiva.

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6 Responses to Rabbi Akiva

  1. I would like to say that to understand the character of Rabbi Akiva, we have to take into consideration that any person consists of two parts:( body=a part of Ratzon Lekabbel in us) and a soul( a part of Ratzon lehashpia), this combination makes us different and gives us individual character.

    Rabbi Akiva from the side of the “body” was a desendent of Sisra, which was a representative of Kna’an tribe, which the Israelites were supposed to move out of Yeretz Israel, they were commanded so in Torah and are prohibited to leave them in the country, on the side of the ” soul” Rabbi Akiva was the reincarnation of the soul of the Ya’akove-our third forefather which in Kabbalah represents middle Line. A piece of mixture I would say!

    Now let us understand a little bit what is the use of such mixture in one person.On the one hand a person has no Zkut Avot, becuase he himself is the soul of one of them, on the other side being the son of the converted he is in a very valnerable possition from the childhood.

    Though we have a special Mitzva to love converted, and according to Gmmara we shouldn’t remind a person that he or his ancester was a convert, but in reality there is alway somebody to speak about it at least at home, and the children speak openly about what they hear at home in public, so we may understood why Akkiva boy didn’t learn at school, He couldn’t stand humilation, because having the soul of Ya’akove he was very sensative, and having the body of Sisra, he was very tempted to react agressivly, both parts made him suffer a lot from his childhood, and it explained why he fighted the Torah-boys, because his soul knew that their study doesn’t value a lot, if they hurt the feelings of desendent of the converted.

    Now we have to understand that there is nothing, but a soul dressed in body influenced by the Creator in the world. He influences us through the dressing into all kind of situations, and the perpose of His influence is to make us to correct the “body”, which we came to this world with.

    So we can only try to understand what is the meaning of having Sisra body, if the Soul of Ya’akove was needed to correct this level of Ratzon lekabbel, and it was done by Rabbi Akiva, because at that time it was already clear that Kna’an tribes were not eleminated from the Eretz Israel and their part of Ratzon Lekabbel was integrated into Israeli people through intermarredges.

    But it is the ways of the Creator, and He knows what He does.What we are going to see how it works in this world, and what was the power that made Akiva into Rabbi Akiva, and what the power of his correction brought into the world, and why things went the way they did.

    So as we said his childhood began through the inner suffering of being outsider for the Normal jewish population, but when you are young you still try to fight the reality, and think that there must be justice!,what you don’t know that your understanding of the justice and the Creator’s one are very different.

    But with the time the” life”(Creator) begins to be to strong to denite it. The young men married women and they had children and a certain status in socity, and carrer, becoming Ravves and so on, and the suffering of Akkiva of the feelings of duality became more and more unbearable, so he goes away from the sourse of his suffering, and becomes a shepherd- prefering to be alone surrounded with the aminals, which don’t understand you, but at least don’t hurt your feelings.And in such a way he transfers his acute suffering into a chronic state, which means that little by little he learns to live with it. But it isn’t the perpose of the Creator!Creator gives us suffering for us to move ahead in spiritual, He doesn’t need it for the sake of suffering itself, but as a preasure on us to move into the direction of spirituality.

    So the next portian of suffering Akiva gets through his falling in love with Rachel. The daughter of millionere!he just could only dream about!He is after his 40 already, and it is a much deeper pain, than he had before, because it involeves not only the feelings, but the insticts also!But the Creator pushes him into the field of Rachel’s intrest, by giving her the intuitive understanding of the potential of the Akiva’s Soul.

    The story goes on, and overcoming the feeling of humiliation of not being able even to read at his age,and being completely seperated from the loved wife, plus knowing that she suffers all the hardships of a poor lonely woman with a child without a husband even to comfort her!We don’t even want to try to discribe what inner suffering he undergoes thinking about Rachel, and knowing that she sacrificed her well being for getting his potential out of him! He comes to the level of being the student of such Sages as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hanani’a, R.Eliezer ben Orkannos, Nakhum Ish Gamser, and he is an outstanding student, but though he gets his Smmikha from R. Yehoshua ben Hana’ia, and his level is one of the high ones, but it isn’t something special.

    And the Creator takes care of it immideatly, for R. Akkiva not to stop his development.Gmmara tells us that after 12 years he comes home and hears a dialogue between a woman and his wife, the woman expresses her pity about Rachel being alone with all the hardships of being poor, while Rachel says that she is ready to go through it for another 12 years for Rabbi Akkiva to continue to study Torah.

    No we have to understand that nothing is written in Gmmara without perpose to theach us something and having very deep inner meaning.Why Gmmara gives us the sentence of a woman that pitys Rachel, it is to show that only now R. Akkiva understood exactly what Rachel was going through! Everybody knew that she was the daughter of Kalbba Savu’a and what happen between her and her father because of her marradge with Akkiva, one thing to be poor and to be humilated and laughted at from the very birth, another thing is to be humileted, and laughted when you became poor after you had been very rich, Rabbi Akiva experienced himself the poverty and it hurted him to know, that on there first night he hadn’t a place to bring her in, but the corner in the shelter for the sheep, and he remember that she couldn’t not to cry, because of the place and smell, and discomfort, which she never experienced in her life, and it burned his heart with the fire of being unable to do something about it!BUT, only now he realised thatRachel didn’t stay away from the people, the way he had done, when “ran” away from the “cruelty of the socity”. she chose to live between people and having each day her portion of “the salt on the wound”, enduring day after day what he couldn’t stand even from time to time!

    Rachel knew that he hears her saying that she prefer him to study Torah for 12 more years,because she loved him so, that made her being able to feel his closeness and through the presence of his spiritual energy, and he goes away without even saying “hello”, because you may overcome a certain level of the wish, but if he would have seen her face or touched her, things could have gone from under the control!and they both knew that there is no time for personal feelings when there is somethinf bigger to be fulfilled first.

    He actually gets more Hissaron=suffering and it is pushes him now to the highest spiritual levels ever known!

    But more 12 years passed, and finally he is with more than 24 000 students, Rachel is with him, her father understands who his son -in-law is, but the Creator continue his plan of making him to get the potential into reality!

    Now we have 24 000 students dying one after another, and it is not only the question of reguler moaning over the dead, it is the questionning of rabbi Akkiva’s theaching, while we know that if” one wins, his Torah becomes the Sam Ha’am- the source of life, and if one falles his Torah becomes the Sam of Mavvet- the sourse of death”

    The suffering gets already the level of questioning of the perpose of all his study and suffering as a private person raises to the level as being the source of the suffering for the other people in plueral!

    Yes, the Cretor leaves himR. Me’ir, R. Nekhemi’a, R.Yehuda bar Illay, and R. Shimmon bar Yokha’i, and though it is written that “Mishnna is based on the opinion of R. Me’ir, and Tossefta on the opinion of R. Nekhemi’a, and Midrash on the opinion of R. Yehuda, and Midrash Sifrry on the opinion of of the R. Shimon, BUT all of them are based on what they learned from Rabbi Akiva”, As a person rabbi Akkiva wants more, he want the correction for all the jewish people being the Soul of the forefather Ya’akov.

    Rabbi Akkiva is on such a spiritual level at that time, and his understanding of Torah and the strenght of prayer are of such superpowerful force, that he decides to make the supernatural effort and to try to pull the people of Israel from the level of coming disaster in the form of the Rome Gullut! He knows that in each generation there is a potential of Mashiakh, and he combines his spiritual power with the jewish rebels in general and Bar Kokhbba in private to stop the distraction of the Israeli presence in the land of Israel.

    a person is built so that no matter what his logic says he want to hope that one day things will be better, and he will be able to see the results of his tremendous efforts, and the end of suffering, inside us we know that the end will be good, but what is difficult to remember is the timeing.

    He gather all the strenght he left to overcome the dispear of the crashing of the hope connected with the rebel of Bar Kokhbba, and don’t pay any attention on the prohibbition of Adrian the empere on learning and escpetially teaching Torah.

    Now in a common person the harder the life becomes the more angree he feeles to the Creator, the more he questions His existance, and loving its Creation. But of course it is too simple a task for rabbi Akkiva, he continue to pray and to be in constant Dvvikut with the Creator, no matter what hardships one after another he undergo, but the last and the only way to make him separete from the Creator is the enduring of the phisical pain close to the pain shock and still giving the time to express the feeling in a clear way!

    Some people suffer so much that they prefer to hurt themselves to feel the pain and to stop the suffering, but the moment they understand that the pain may result in death, most of them are looking for the help, because the dread of unknown connected with the death make paople to look for the way to stay alive.

    Now it isn’t Rabbi Akiva’s case because he new all about the “after death life”, so what was the perpose of giving him such a death as he got?

    Yakov is called Completion= perfection, and it means that you have to come to the level of complete understanding of your role in the Creation, only in this way you may say that this part of the correction is understood, and done at least by one person, and by being the first you make this way easier for those coming after you. We often blame genetics, curcomstancies we were born or grown up, we G-d forrbit blame our parents, countries, the Creator for our fate, BUT somebody MUST be the first to btake this circles through, and to understand, that no matter what form of the body the soul came to this world, we have to serve the intrests of the development of our souls and correcting whatever we were given as a form of our bodies.

    And Rabbi Akkiva had to be the first to overcome the instinct of preserving the life for the sake of the completion of the soul staying undamadged in public( it was done in privite by his soul’s father yitzkhak on the mount Morriha)

    If he was given a death that doesn’t give him the time of clearly expressing his preferences, no matter how unlogical it may seemed to everybody,who knew his achevments in Torah and Mitzvot, and who saw him only getting more and stronger suffering stage after stage of his life, any human psych at a certain moment would just cry”ENOUGH of these endless SUFFERING”, his life was the life of one long pain, the pain which would be faced by many generations to come suffering 2000 year exail of humilation and distraction of the jewish Will to serve the Creator, and he had to pronounce clearly at the presence of his students people of Israel and Go’im that” HASHEM EKHAD”, overcoming “kna’an body” in favour of jewish soul, and it is the secret of jewish immortality, no matter what we have to undergo, or what bodys we have to come into this world, the final words of Rabbi Akkiva and his life example are our garanty for the strength of our spirituality over the hardships of the life for the all ganarations to come!

    Rabbi Akkiva died on the 10th of Tishre’i , on Youm Kippur, Yehudda HaNassi was born on that very day, and this endless connection and chaine of the souls coming to this world and doing what they have to do will never end till we see the coming of Mashiakh and the Third Temple built, and till we hear a” new song on the streets of the Jerusalem rebuilt”

    Gmmar Ktivva ve hattima Tova le Koll Israel and Koll Bri’a Kulla.

  2. yehudith says:

    Intresting fact to know that Rabbi Akiva who said “love you neughbour as yourself is a very important principle in Torah”, also said that ” Your life is of paramount importance towards the life of your friend”

    As it is told in Gemmara( Bavva Metzi’a samekh-bet), two people were going along the way, and one of them had a bottle of water, if they share it both would die, and if one drinks he will be able to reach a settelment.

    Ben Pturra said that it is better that both drink and no one will witness the death of the other, but Rabbi Akiva came and tought them ” And your brother will live with you” Torah says, “with YOU”, so your life is prior to the life of the friend”.

    The Sages also teach that the one who doesn’t know to love yourself may not love anybody.

  3. mike de haan says:

    Dear Sir
    Surely it was Rabbi Akiva who appointed Bar Cochba as the
    Messiah -the 4th to be proclaimed so.
    Surely this lead to more Jews being killed proprtionally than in the holocaust and many Jews returned to Egypt as slaves again
    Surely the Jewish Christians flourished because of him
    Surely he was the cause of the destruction of the Rabbinate and
    Sanhedrin
    I won’t go on but your response to the above would be appreciated
    Thanks

  4. Hello, dear reader

    There are some facts which you must haven’t noticed on this side:

    1st: the site isn’t administered by “Sir” anymore. Sir Benyamin passed the rights on this side to Yehudith Shraga(which is Madam), as he is too busy to run it.

    2nd: there is an explanation of Rabbi Akiva’s support of the rebel of Bar Kokhbah
    in the 1st comment to the main article, of course there is much more to explain on it, as the 1st comment is dedicated to Rabbi Akiva’s life in general and not specifically to his attitude to the role of Bar Kokhbah, the question is if you are interested in waiting to the answer of the”Sir” whom I informed about your comment, but still haven’t got the answer if he has time to answer you or you are open to know the answer of the”Madam” which I am going to write soon with or without your interest to the answer, as it seems right to give an answer to your comment for other readers to know our position to your statements.

    Thank you for writing your comment
    Wish you all the best in your exploration of spiritual depth of Creation

  5. The following comment is the answer to the comment of Mike deHaan

    Before we discuss the role of Rabbi Akiva in Bar Kohcba rebel and Rabbi Akiva “appointing” Bar Kochba to be Mashiakh we have to discuss the role of holocaust in Jewish History.

    What we have to agree in absolute way is that any Holocaust performed over any nation including Jewish one is done by G-d and only by Him otherwise we do not believe that the G-d is One and we state that there’s any other Power in this world which can do something against G-d’s Will.

    Reading Torah we can notice that Holocaust was performed over Jewish people time and again by G-d through different means be it an infectious disease or snakes or Levi’s mass killing of those who left G-d’s Ways of Life etc. Torah gives some explanations on why some other nations were destroyed or a holocaust was performed on them, but specifically on Jewish people the holocaust=mass distraction is done whenever them follow their evil inclination instead of fulfilling the role given to them by G-d and here we have to explain that Jewish people as a part of the Creation has nothing special in themselves they are a part of “the Wish to get” as all the rest of the world, BUT what makes Jewish people really specially or as we say Chosen is the decision of G-d to make them the first nation which initiate the conversion of the “wish to get for the sake of getting” into “wish to get for the sake of bestowing” and it is the answer to any holocaust of Jewish People be it mentioned in Torah or in later history of the Jewish People, it is as simple as following, the moment we stop fulfilling our main role in this world, there is no need for our presence in this world at all and the hardships start and in many times end in mass distraction of Jewish people be it by Romans or by Germans, be it through expulsion from England, Spain, Pogroms in Ukraine or Russia ALL of them are the result of our deviation from G-d’s Ways of Life which are Bestowing for the sake of Bestowing or Getting for the Sake of Bestowing forms of existence, so it should be absolutely clear that Rabbi Akiva knew it much better than we do that NO MORTAL be it even Rabbi Akiva himself could do anything to Jewish People(or Rabbinate and Sanhedrin) without G-d’s Will to it. So what is then the role of Rabbi Akiva in Bar Kochba revolt and why Rabbi Akiva chose to appoint Bar Kochba Mashi’akh?

    As is said in the 1st comment to the article “Rabbi Akkiva is on such a spiritual level at that time, and his understanding of Torah and the strength of prayer are of such super powerful force, that he decides to make the supernatural effort and to try to pull the people of Israel from the level of coming disaster in the form of the Rome Gullut! He knows that in each generation there is a potential of Mashiakh, and he combines his spiritual power with the Jewish rebels in general and Bar Kokhba in private to stop the distraction of the 2nd Temple and Israeli presence in the land of Israel.

    …He gathers all his strength left to overcome the despair of the crashing of the hope connected with the rebel of Bar Kokhba, and doesn’t pay any attention on the prohibition of Adrian the empire on learning and teaching Torah…”.

    We can understand Rabbi Akiva’s choice to support the rebel of Bar Kochba( there were some prominent Jewish leaders of that time which didn’t and even predicted the crash of Bar Kochba’s revolt) by comparing the spiritual state of Jewish people of that time with the 4th stage of cancer in a patient, it is clear to any doctor that whatever is done it is 99.99999999999999…% that the patient’s state is going to end in dying , BUT there is still a 0.000000000000…1% that may not be predict with the 100%, and we DO EVERTHING TO SAVE THE PATIANT!!! and that is exactly what Rabbi Akiva did, he knew very well what the spiritual level of the generation must be for the G-d to bring on them invasion of Rome, but as they say the hope dies last and that is what Rabbi Akiva chooses in both: supporting( and not initiating!!!) Bar Kochba revolt and as an extreme act of Love to the People of Israel saying that Bar Kochba is Mashi’ak in hope to awake in Jewish People the Power of Tshuva(returning to the Bestowing Way of Life) and praying and studying and teaching openly Torah till the death ended his life in this world with his proclaiming “Hear, Oh Israel, The G-d is One”.

    Hadn’t it been for Rabbi Akiva’s efforts (including appointing Bar Kokhba Mashi’akh) the holocaust of that time and the whole future of the Jewish People would have been much more tragic than any of us could even imagine.

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