Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father and Our King) Prayer of Rabbi Akiba Info Chain You add your own related info in comment section!

July 3, 2010 at 9:43am
Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father and Our King) Prayer of Rabbi Akiba Info Chain - You add your own related info in comment section!

A beautiful and poignant prayer we pray on Yom Kippur and throughout the year, but not on the Sabbath (a day of rest, not of self reprimand).

Our God and God of our ancestors! Let our prayers come before You and do not hide Yourself from our supplication. For neither are we so arrogant nor hardened to say, "We are righteous and have not sinned," for truly, truly, we have sinned. May it be Your will, O Lord our God, to forgive all our sins, and pardon all our iniquities.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight through arrogance of our will,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by breach of trust.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight by casting off responsibility,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by denying and lying.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight by evil thoughts,
For all of these, O God of forgiveness,
forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight, either knowingly or unknowingly.
And for the sin which we have committed before You through lustful desires.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by not lifting up Your Name.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by passing judgment.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by resisting those in authority.
For all of these, O God of forgiveness,
forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight by scoffing,
And for the sin which we have committed before You through talking idly.
And for the sin which we have committed before You through excess in eating and drinking.
For the sin which we have committed in Your sight by yet being proud,
And for the sin which we have committed before You through our lack of zeal.
For all of these, O God of forgiveness,
forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
Avinu Malkeinu (our Father, our King), we have sinned before you!
Avinu Malkeinu, in Your abundant mercy, cleanse us of our guilt before You.
Avinu Malkeinu, bring us back to You in perfect repentance.
Our Father, our King, be gracious unto us and answer us although we have no merits of our own. Deal with us in righteousness and lovingkindness, and save us.

אבינו מלכנו Our Father, our King, we have sinned before You.
Our Father, our King, we have no King but You.
Our Father, our King, deal [kindly] with us for Your Name's sake.
Our Father, our King, bless us with a good year.
Our Father, our King, nullify all harsh decrees upon us.
Our Father, our King, nullify the designs of those who hate us.
Our Father, our King, thwart the counsel of our enemies.
Our Father, our King, exterminate every foe and adversary from upon us.
Our Father, our King, seal the mouths of our adversaries and accusers.
Our Father, our King, exterminate pestilence, sword, famine, captivity, destruction, iniquity and eradication
from the members of Your covenant.
Our Father, our King, withhold the plague from Your heritage.
Our Father, our King, forgive and pardon all our iniquities.
Our Father, our King, wipe away and remove our willful sins and errors from Your sight.
Our Father, our King, erase through Your abundant compassion all record of our guilt.
Our Father, our King, return us to You in perfect repentance.
Our Father, our King, send complete recovery to the sick of Your people.
Our Father, our King, tear up the evil decree of our verdict.
Our Father, our King, recall us with a favorable memory before You.

Our Father, our King, make salvation sprout for us soon.
Our Father, our King, raise high the pride of Israel, Your people.
Our Father, our King, raise high the pride of Your annointed.
Our Father, our King, fill our hands from Your blessings.
Our Father, our King, fill our storehouses with abundance.
Our Father, our King, hear our voice, pity and be compassionate to us.
Our Father, our King, accept - with compassion and favor - our prayer.
Our Father, our King, open the gates of heaven to our prayer.
Our Father, our King, remember that we are but dust.
Our Father, our King, please do not turn us from You empty-handed.
Our Father, our King, may this moment be a moment of compassion and a time of favor before You.
Our Father, our King, take pity upon us, and upon our children and our infants.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were murdered for Your Set-Apart Name.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were slaughtered for Your Oneness.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who went into fire and water for the
sanctification of Your Name.
Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants.
Our Father, our King, act for Your sake if not for our sake.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of Your abundant compassion.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of Your great, mighty, and awesome Name
that is proclaimed upon us.

Our Father, our King, be gracious with us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds;
treat us with charity and kindness, and save us.

Avinu Malkeinu, hatanu l'phanecha
Avinu Malkeinu, ain lanu melech eleh attah.
Avinu Malkeinu, asei emanu l'ma'an sh'mecha
Avinu Malkeinu, barach aleinu shana tovah.
Avinu Malkeinu, batal mei'aleinu kal g'zayrot kashot.
Avinu Malkeinu,

Avinu Malkeinu chaneinu va'anaynu, ki ain banu ma'a'sim,
Asei im'manu tz'dakah va'chesed, v'ho'shi'ay'nu

Avinu Malkeinu Lyrics:
(translation w/transliteration)

Hear our prayer
We have sinned before thee
Have compassion upon us and upon our children
Help us bring an end to pestilence, war, and famine
Cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth
Inscribe us for blessing in the book of life
Let the new year be a good year for us

Avinu malkeinu sh’ma kolenu
Avinu malkeinu chatanu l’faneycha
Avinu malkeinu alkenu chamol aleynu
V’al olaleynu v’tapenu

Avinu malkeinu
Kaleh dever v’cherev v’raav mealeynu
Avinu malkeinu kalehchol tsar
Umastin mealeynu

Avinu malkeinu
Avinu malkeinu
Kotvenu b’sefer chayim tovim
Avinu malkeinu chadesh aleynu
Chadesh a leynu shanah tovah

Sh’ma kolenu

Avinu malkeinu

Avinu malkeinu
Chadesh a leynu

Shanah tovah

Avinu malkeinu
Sh’ma kolenu

Avinu malkenu, Shema kolenu:
Avinu malkenu, Chatanu l'faneicha:
Avinu malkenu, Chamol aleinu v'al-olaleinu v'tapenu:
Avinu malkenu, Kaleh dever v'cherev v'raav mealeynu:
Avinu malkenu, Kaleh chal-tzar umas'tin mealeinu:
Avinu malkenu, Avinu malkenu, Kat'venu b'sefer chayim tovim:
Avinu malkenu, Chadesh aleinu, Chadesh aleinu shanah tovah:
Shema kolenu, shema kolenu, shema kolenu:
Avinu malkenu, Avinu malkenu, Chadesh aleinu, Shanah tova:
Avinu malkenu, shema kolenu, shema kolenu, shema kolenu, shema kolenu:
Our Father, our King! Hear our voice:
Our Father, our King! We have sinned before You:
Our Father, our King! Have compassion for us and for our children and our infants:
Our Father, our King! Of pestilence, and sword, and famine rid us:
Our Father, our King! Of every oppressor and adversary rid us:
Our Father, our King! Our Father, our King! Inscribe us in the book of good life:
Our Father, our King! Anew for us, Anew for us a good year:
Hear our voice, Hear our voice, Hear our voice:
Our Father, our King! Our Father, our King! Anew for us, a good year:
Our Father, our King! Hear our voice, Hear our voice, Hear our voice, Hear our voice:

A Story for Lag BaOmer
Akiva ben Yoseph was one of the greatest Rabbis who ever lived. He was born about 17 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. His father Yoseph was poor and uneducated, as his father had been before him and his grandfather before that. As a child Akiva received no education. Instead of attending school, the boy helped to support his family by taking care of their sheep.
As a young man, Akiva worked as a shepherd for Kalba Savua, one of the richest men in Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. Kalba Savua had a beautiful daughter name Rachel. One day Rachel went out into the field to inspect her father's sheep. Akiva, the poor shepherd, fell in love with Rachel instantly. And you can imagine how happy he was when Rachel returned to the field the next day, and then again the day after that!
Rachel returned, you see, because she had fallen in love as well.
At last, after many days, Akiva said, "Rachel, I know that you are the daughter of a rich man and I am only a poor shepherd, but I can no longer remain silent and hide my love! Nothing will make me happy unless you consent to be my wife."
Rachel replied that she would marry him only if he agreed to study Torah and get a Jewish education. This made Akiva very sad. How could he go to school now? He was too old, and how would it be possible for him to study Torah when he did not even know how to read and write?
One day as Akiva sadly sat beside a brook while tending his sheep, he noticed a large stone with a deep hole in it. What had formed the hole in the rock, he wondered. He looked closely and saw that the hole in the rock was in a spot where the water from the brook ran over it. He realized that the constant pressure of the water was what had worn away part of the rock. Amazing, he thought to himself, that something as soft as water could make a hole in something as hard as stone. And all it took was time a great deal of time.
And then Akiva realized that even though he was no longer a child, and had no formal education, that if he devoted himself to the study of Torah he would be able to learn. All he needed was the time to study.
When Kalba Savua found out that his beautiful, rich daughter had agreed to marry a poor, uneducated shepherd, he was furious. He refused to give the couple any financial support, refused to provide his daughter Rachel with a dowry, and told her he never wished to see her again.
In spite of this, Rachel and Akiva were married, so great was their love for one another. But they were very poor. Akiva, no longer a shepherd for his father -inlaw's sheep, barely earned a living as a woodchopper. He certainly had no time to study, in spite of his promise to his wife. They soon became parents, and when their first born was old enough to attend school, Akiva went with him. It didn't take long for the teachers to discover that he had great talent for study. They encouraged Akiva to devote himself to learning.
"No sacrifice is too great," said his wife Rachel. "I will support our family while you study at the academy of one of the great Rabbis."
And so it happened. Akiva attended several schools of learning, and after many years became a student of Joshua ben Hananya, a great scholar.
One day Rachel heard that Akiva didn't even have enough money to buy candies. Because of this he studied in the dark, thus spoiling his eyesight. Quickly Rachel cut off her beautiful long hair, sold it in the marketplace and sent the money to Akiva.
Akiva became a great scholar, and his fame spread throughout the country. The lowly shepherd became one of Israel's most beloved Rabbis.
The day came when Rabbi Akiva felt it was time to return to his wife Rachel. But he did not go alone. Twelve thousand of his faithful students came along with him. When it became known that the great Rabbi Akiva was coming, all the people in the village went out to meet and welcome him.
Among the people was Rachel, his good, hardworking wife. Some students went ahead of the Rabbi to clear the way for him. They saw a poor woman in old clothes standing in the way.
"Move out of the way, poor woman", they shouted, "make way for the great Rabbi."
At this very moment Rabbi Akiva appeared and said: "This is my wife, Rachel. She is the one who made me study the Torah. Without her help I would not have become a Rabbi and you would not be my students."
With these words Rabbi Akiva embraced Rachel and together they walked into the village where they were joyfully welcomed. Meanwhile Kalba Savua had become a very unhappy man. He was still very rich but he deeply regretted his oath never to set eyes on Rachel. When Kalba Savua heard that a great Rabbi had come to the village he decided to go ask him how to undo his oath. Of course, he did not know that the great Rabbi Akiva was the shepherd who had married his daughter.
Rabbi Akiva did not show that he recognized Kalba Savua. He listened to Kalba Savua's story carefully and then asked: "If you find that your daughter is still married to the poor shepherd will you forgive her and take her back into your house?
"Oh yes, yes," answered Kalba Savua, "I shall be only too happy to have both of them live with me."
Akiva couldn't stand it any longer. "Dear father", said Rabbi Akiva, "I am Akiva, your former shepherd, and your oath is null and void."
Happily Kalba Savua embraced Rachel and Akiva. He shared his wealth with them and the three of them lived together very happily.
Those were the days when Bar Kochva, the great Jewish leader, called for revolt against the Romans who ruled the land of Israel. Akiva and his many pupils joined Bar Kochva and fought as part of the rebellion. This is the reason we remember Rabbi Akiva not only as a wise Rabbi but also as a courageous fighter.
Avinu Malkeinu” - “Our Father, Our King”

The Calendar and Holidays (incl. Sabbath)

Other Holidays and Fasts
“Avinu Malkeinu” - “Our Father, Our King”

I’ve decided to speak on the topic of the “Avinu Malkeinu” (“Our Father, Our King) prayer. Can you tell me some things about it?
I’ll try to give you a few of the highlights of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer.
Avinu Malkeinu finds its origins in the Talmud (Taanis 25b): The Talmud relates that a famine hit hard, and as a result, the Sages proclaimed a fast day. During the fast day, Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest Sages of Mishnaic times, recited five sentences, each one beginning with the words “Avinu Malkeinu,” “our Father, our King.” Immediately after his recitation of these five sentences, it began to rain.
Over the generations, different communities added to Rabbi Akiva’s original list of five, and eventually, it grew to the list of forty or so lines that we have today.
Aveinu Malkeinu is recited on fast days and during the 10 days of Repentence between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. However, it is not recited on Tisha B’av, even though it is a fast day. In addition, Avinu Malkeinu is never recited on Shabbat, except for one occasion: if Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, Avinu Malkeinu is recited during the last prayer of the day, Neilah.
This should help you get started. I hope it goes well!
Be well,
Rabbi Yoel Spotts

Akiva ben Joseph
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Rabbinical Eras
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Akiba ben Yosef (ca.50–ca.135 CE) (Hebrew: רבי עקיבא בן יוסף "Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef") or simply Rabbi Akiva was a Judean tanna of the latter part of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd century (3rd tannaitic generation). He was a great authority in the matter of Jewish tradition, and one of the most central and essential contributors to the Mishnah and Midrash Halakha. He is referred to in the Talmud as "Rosh la-Chachomim" (Head of all the Sages). He is considered by many to be one of the earliest founders of rabbinical Judaism[1].
• 1 Parentage and youth
• 2 Akiva and his wife
• 3 Relationship with Bar Kochba
• 4 Personal Character
• 5 Akiba and Gamaliel II
• 6 Akiba as Systematizer
• 7 Akiba's Halakah
• 8 Akiba's Hermeneutic System
• 9 Religious Philosophy
• 10 Freedom of Will
• 11 God's Two Attributes
• 12 Eschatology and Ethics
• 13 The Messianic Age
• 14 Legends
o 14.1 His innovative method
o 14.2 His transformation
o 14.3 His martyrdom
o 14.4 His students
o 14.5 His wealth and influence
o 14.6 His relationship with his wife
o 14.7 Favorite maxim
o 14.8 Akiba and the Dead
• 15 Cultural references
• 16 See also
• 17 References
• 18 Notes
• 19 External links

[edit] Parentage and youth
File:Akiva ben joseph.jpg
Rabbi Akiva, from the Mantua Haggadah (1568)
A great many legends have been passed down about Akiva. But despite the rich mass of material afforded by rabbinical sources, only an incomplete portrait can be drawn of the man who marked out the path followed by rabbinical Judaism for almost two millennia.
Akiva ben Joseph (written עקיבא in the Babylonian talmud, and עקיבה in the Jerusalem talmud — another form for עקביה) who is usually called simply Akiba, was of comparatively humble parentage[2]. A misunderstanding of the expression "Zechus Avos" (Ber. l.c.), joined to a tradition concerning Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor (Giṭ. 57b, Sanh. 96b), is the source of another tradition (Nissim Gaon to Ber. l.c.), which makes Akiva a descendant of Sisera. Of the romantic story of Akiva's marriage with the daughter of the wealthy Jerusalemite, Kalba Savua, whose shepherd he is said to have been (see below "Akiba and his wife" and "His relationship with his wife"), only this is known to be true: that Akiva was a shepherd (Yeb. 86b; compare ibid. 16a). His wife's name was Rachel (Ab. R. N. ed. S. Schechter, vi. 29), and she was the daughter of an entirely unknown man named Joshua, who is specifically mentioned (Yad. iii. 5) as Akiva's father-in-law. She stood loyally by her husband during that critical period of his life in which Akiva, thitherto the mortal enemy of the rabbis and an am ha-aretz (ignoramus) (Pes. 49b), decided to place himself at the feet of those previously detested men. Prior to this change of heart, he used to say: "O that I would find a Talmid Chacham and bite him like a donkey" [Exact quote needed.] (Pesachim, 49b).
A reliable tradition (Ab. R. N. l.c.) narrates that Akiva at the age of 40, and when he was the father of a numerous family dependent upon him, eagerly attended the academy of his native town, Lod, presided over by Eliezer ben Hyrkanus. Hyrcanus was a neighbor of Joseph, the father of Akiva. 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. It is known that in 95–96 Akiva had already attained great prominence (H. Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 2d ed., iv. 121), and, further, that he studied for 13 years before becoming a teacher himself (Ab. R. N. l.c.). Thus the beginning of his years of study would fall about 75–80. Earlier than this, Yochanan ben Zakai was living, and Eliezer, being his pupil, would have been held of no authority in Johanan's lifetime. Consequently, if we accept the tradition that Akiva was 40 when beginning the study of the Law, he must have been born about 40–50.
Besides Eliezer, Akiva had other teachers—principally Joshua ben Hananiah (Ab. R. N. l.c.) and Nahum Ish Gamzu (Hag. 12a). He was on equal footing with Rabban Gamaliel II, whom he met later. In a certain sense, Tarphon was considered as one of Akiba's masters (Ket. 84b), but the pupil outranked his teacher, and Tarphon became one of Akiva's greatest admirers (Sifre, Num. 75). Akiba probably remained in Lod (R. H. i. 6), as long as Eliezer dwelt there, and then removed his own school to Bene Berak, five Roman miles from Jaffa (Sanh. 32b; Tosef., Shab. iii. [iv.] 3). Akiba also lived for some time at Ziphron (Num. xxxiv. 9), the modern Zafrân (Z. P. V. viii. 28), near Hamath (see Sifre, Num. iv., and the parallel passages quoted in the Talmudical dictionaries of Levy and M. Jastrow). For another identification of the place, and other forms of its name, see A. Neubauer, Géographie, p. 391, and M. Jastrow, l.c.
Among Akiva's other contemporaries were Elisha ben Avuya, Eliezer ben Tzodok, Eleazar ben Azaria, Gamliel II, Yehuda ben Betheira, Yochanan ben Nuri, Yosi Haglili, Rabbi Yishmael and Chanina ben Dosa.
[edit] Akiva and his wife
According to the Talmud, Akiva owed almost everything to his wife. Akiva was a shepherd in the employ of the rich and respected Kalba Sabu'a, whose daughter took a liking to him, the modest, conscientious servant. She consented to secret betrothal on the condition that he thenceforth devote himself to study. When the wealthy father-in-law learned of this secret betrothal, he drove his daughter from his house, and swore that he would never help her while Akiva remained her husband. Akiva, with his young wife, lived perforce in the most straitened circumstances. Indeed, so poverty-stricken did they become that the bride had to sell her hair to enable her husband to pursue his studies. But these very straits only served to bring out Akiba's greatness of character. It is related that once, when a bundle of straw was the only bed they possessed, a poor man came to beg some straw for a bed for his sick wife. Akiva at once divided with him his scanty possession, remarking to his wife, "Thou seest, my child, there are those poorer than we!" This pretended poor man was none other than the prophet Elijah, who had come to test Akiba (Ned. 50a).
By agreement with his wife, Akiva spent twelve years away from her, pursuing his studies under Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Joshua ben Hananiah. Returning at the end of that time, he was just about to enter his wretched home, when he overheard the following answer given by his wife to a neighbor who was bitterly censuring him for his long absence: "If I had my wish, he should stay another twelve years at the academy." Without crossing the threshold, Akiba turned about and went back to the academy, to return at the expiration of another twelve years. The second time, however, he came back as a most famous scholar, escorted by 24,000 disciples, who reverently followed their beloved master. When his poorly clad wife was about to embrace him, some of his students, not knowing who she was, sought to restrain her. But Akiva exclaimed, "Let her alone; for what I am, and for what you are, is hers" (she deserves the credit) (Ned. 50a, Ket. 62b et seq.).
See "His relationship with his wife" below for the full story from the Talmud.
[edit] Relationship with Bar Kochba
The greatest tannaim of the middle of the 2nd century came from Akiba's school, notably Rabbi Meir, Judah ben Ilai, Simeon ben Yohai, Jose ben Halafta, Eleazar ben Shammai, and Rabbi Nehemiah. Besides these, who all attained great renown, Akiba undoubtedly had many disciples whose names have not been handed down, but whose number is variously stated by the Aggadah at 12,000 (Gen. R. lxi. 3), 24,000 (Yeb. 62b), and 48,000 (Ned. 50a). That these figures are to be regarded merely as haggadic exaggerations, and not, as some modern historians insist, as the actual numbers of Akiba's political followers, is evident from the passage, Ket. 106a, in which there are similar exaggerations concerning the disciples of other rabbis.
The part which Akiva is said to have taken in the Bar Kokba revolt cannot be historically determined. The only established fact concerning his connection with Bar Kokba is that the venerable teacher regarded the patriot as the promised Jewish Messiah (Yer. Ta'anit, iv. 68d), and this is absolutely all there is in evidence of an active participation by Akiba in the revolution. In this regard, Akiva expounded the following verse homiletically: "A star has shot off Jacob" (Numbers 24:17) and so nicknamed the rebel as Kochva, "the star", rather than Kozieva. When Akiva would see bar Kochba, he would say: "Dein hu Malka Meshiecha!" (This is the King Messiah) (Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 4:8). The numerous journeys which, according to rabbinical sources, Akiba is said to have made, cannot have been in any way connected with politics. In 95–96 Akiba was in Rome (H. Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 121), and some time before 110 he was in Nehardea (Yeb. xvi. 7), which journeys cannot be made to coincide with revolutionary plans.
In view of the mode of traveling then in vogue, it is not at all improbable that Akiba visited en route numerous other places having important Jewish communities (Neuburger in Monatsschrift, 1873, p. 393), but information on this point is lacking. The statement that he dwelt in Gazaka in Media rests upon a false reading in Gen. R. xxxiii. 5, and Ab. Zarah, 34a, where for "Akiba" should be read "UḲba," the Babylonian, as Rashi on Ta'anit, 11b, points out. Similarly the passage in Ber. 8b should read "Simon ben Gamaliel" instead of Akiba, just as the PesiḲta (ed. S. Buber, iv. 33b) has it. A sufficient ground for refusing credence in any participation by Akiba in the political anti-Roman movements of his day is the statement of the Baraita (Ber. 61b) that he suffered martyrdom on account of his transgression of Hadrian's edicts against the practice and the teaching of the Jewish religion, a religious and not a political reason for his death being given.
Akiba's death, which according to Sanh. 12a occurred after several years of imprisonment, must have taken place about 132, before the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt, otherwise, as Z. Frankel (Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 121) remarks, the delay of the Romans in executing him would be quite inexplicable. That the religious interdicts of Hadrian preceded the overthrow of Bar Kokba, is shown by Mek., Mishpaṭim, 18, where Akiba regards the martyrdom of two of his friends as ominous of his own fate. After the fall of Bethar no omens were needed to predict evil days. Legends concerning the date and manner of Akiba's death are numerous, but according to Crawford Howell Toy and Louis Ginzberg in the Jewish Encyclopedia, they must all be disregarded as being without historical foundation.
However Jewish sources relate that he was subjected to a Roman torture where his skin was flayed with iron combs. As this was happening, astonishingly - especially for those performing the torture - he was saying the Shema prayer. As they got to his forehead area where a Jewish man lays Tefillin he expired.[citation needed]
[edit] Personal Character
An example of his modesty is his funeral address over his son Simon. To the large assembly gathered on the occasion from every quarter, he said (Sem. viii., M. ḳ. 21b).
Brethren of the house of Israel, listen to me. Not because I am a scholar have ye appeared here so numerously; for there are those here more learned than I. Nor because I am a wealthy man; for there are many more wealthy than I. The people of the south know Akiba; but whence should the people of Galilee know him? The men are acquainted with him; but how shall the women and children I see here be said to be acquainted with him? Still I know that your reward shall be great, for ye have given yourselves the trouble to come simply in order to do honor to the Torah and to fulfill a religious duty.
[edit] Akiba and Gamaliel II
Modesty is a favorite theme with Akiba, and he reverts to it again and again. "He who esteems himself highly on account of his knowledge," he teaches, "is like a corpse lying on the wayside: the traveler turns his head away in disgust, and walks quickly by" (Ab. R. N., ed. S. Schechter, xi. 46). Another of his sayings, quoted also in the name of Ben Azzai (Lev. R. i. 5), is specially interesting from the fact that Book of Luke, xiv. 8-12, is almost literally identical with it: "Take thy place a few seats below thy rank until thou art bidden to take a higher place; for it is better that they should say to thee 'Come up higher' than that they should bid thee 'Go down lower'" (see Prov. xxv. 7).
Though so modest, yet when an important matter and not a merely personal one was concerned Akiba could not be cowed by the greatest, as is evidenced by his attitude toward the patriarch Gamaliel II. Convinced of the necessity of a central authority for Judaism, Akiba became a devoted adherent and friend of Gamaliel, who aimed at constituting the patriarch the true spiritual chief of the Jews (R. H. ii. 9). But Akiba was just as firmly convinced that the power of the patriarch must be limited both by the written and the oral law, the interpretation of which lay in the hands of the learned; and he was accordingly brave enough to act in ritual matters in Gamaliel's own house contrary to the decisions of Gamaliel himself[3]. Concerning Akiba's other personal excellences, such as benevolence, and kindness toward the sick and needy, see Ned. 40a, Lev. R. xxxiv.16, and Tosef., Meg. iv. 16. Akiba filled the office of an overseer of the poor[4].
Eminent as Akiba was by his magnanimity and moral worthiness, he was still more so by his intellectual capacity, by which he secured an enduring influence upon his contemporaries and upon posterity. In the first place, Akiba was the one who definitely fixed the canon of the Old Testament books. He protested strongly against the canonicity of certain of the Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus, for instance (Sanh. x. 1, Bab. ibid. 100b, Yer. ibid. x. 28a), in which passages קורא is to be explained according to ḳid. 49a, and חיצונים according to its Aramaic equivalent ברייתא; so that Akiba's utterance reads, "He who reads aloud in the synagogue from books not belonging to the canon as if they were canonical," etc.
He has, however, no objection to the private reading of the Apocrypha, as is evident from the fact that he himself makes frequent use of Ecclesiasticus (W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 277; H. Grätz, Gnosticismus, p. 120). Akiba stoutly defended, however, the canonicity of the Song of Songs, and Esther (Yad. iii.5, Meg. 7a). Grätz's statements (Shir ha-Shirim, p. 115, and Kohelet, p. 169) respecting Akiba's attitude toward the canonicity of the Song of Songs are misconceptions, as I.H. Weiss (Dor, ii. 97) has to some extent shown. To the same motive underlying his antagonism to the Apocrypha, namely, the desire to disarm Christians—especially Jewish Christians—who drew their "proofs" from the Apocrypha, must also be attributed his wish to emancipate the Jews of the Dispersion from the domination of the Septuagint, the errors and inaccuracies in which frequently distorted the true meaning of Scripture, and were even used as arguments against the Jews by the Christians.
Aquila was a man after Akiba's own heart; under Akiba's guidance he gave the Greek-speaking Jews a rabbinical Bible (Jerome on Isa. viii. 14, Yer. ḳid. i. 59a). Akiba probably also provided for a revised text of the Targums; certainly, for the essential base of the so-called Targum Onkelos, which in matters of Halakah reflects Akiba's opinions completely (F. Rosenthal, Bet Talmud, ii. 280).
[edit] Akiba as Systematizer
Akiba's true genius, however, is shown in his work in the domain of the Halakah, both in his systematization of its traditional material and in its further development. The condition of the Halakah, that is, of religious praxis, and indeed of Judaism in general, was a very precarious one at the turn of the first century of the common era. The lack of any systematized collection of the accumulated Halakot rendered impossible any presentation of them in form suitable for practical purposes. Means for the theoretical study of the Halakah were also scant; both logic and exegesis—the two props of the Halakah—being differently conceived by the various ruling tannaim, and differently taught. According to a tradition which has historical confirmation, it was Akiba who systematized and brought into methodic arrangement the Mishnah, or Halakah codex; the Midrash, or the exegesis of the Halakah; and the Halakot, the logical amplification of the Halakah (Yer. SheḲ. v. 48c, according to the correct text given by Rabbinowicz, DiḲduḲe Soferim, p. 42; compare Giṭ. 67a and Dünner, in Monatsschrift, xx. 453, also W. Bacher, in Rev. Ét. Juives, xxxviii. 215.) The Mishna of Akiva, as his pupil Meir had taken it from him, became the basis of the Six Orders of the Mishna.
The δευτερώσεις τοῦ καλουμένου Ραββὶ Ακιβά mentioned by Epiphanius (Adversus Hæreses, xxxiii. 9, and xv., end), as well as the "great Mishnayot of Akiba" in the Midr. Cant. R. viii. 2, Eccl. R. vi. 2, are probably not to be understood as independent Mishnayot (δευτερώσεις) existing at that time, but as the teachings and opinions of Akiba contained in the officially recognized Mishnayot and Midrashim. But at the same time it is fair to consider the Mishnah of Judah ha-Nasi (called simply "the Mishnah") as derived from the school of Akiba; and the majority of halakic Midrashim now extant are also to be thus credited.
Johanan bar Nappaḥa (199–279) has left the following important note relative to the composition and editing of the Mishnah and other halakic works: "Our Mishnah comes directly from Rabbi Meir, the Tosefta from R. Nehemiah, the Sifra from R. Judah, and the Sifre from R. Simon; but they all took Akiba for a model in their works and followed him" (Sanh. 86a). One recognizes here the threefold division of the halakic material that emanated from Akiba: (1) The codified Halakah (which is Mishnah); (2) the Tosefta, which in its original form contains a concise logical argument for the Mishnah, somewhat like the Lebush of Mordecai Jafe on the Shulḥan 'Aruk; (3) the halakic Midrash.
The following may be mentioned here as the halakic Midrashim originating in Akiba's school: the Mekilta of Rabbi Simon (in manuscript only) on Exodus; Sifra on Leviticus; Sifre Zuṭṭa on the Book of Numbers (excerpts in YalḲ. Shim'oni, and a manuscript in Midrash ha-Gadol, (edited for the first time by B. Koenigsberger, 1894); and the Sifre to Deuteronomy, the halakic portion of which belongs to Akiba's school.
What was Rabbi Akiva like? - A worker who goes out with his basket. 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. When he arrives home he sorts out the wheat by itself, barley by itself, spelt by itself, beans by themselves, lentils by themselves. So did Rabbi Akiva; he arranged the Torah rings by rings.
– Avot deRabbi Natan ch. 18; see also Gittin, 67a
[edit] Akiba's Halakah
Admirable as is the systematization of the Halakah by Akiba, his hermeneutics and halakic exegesis—which form the foundation of all Talmudic learning—surpassed it.
The enormous difference between the Halakah before and after Akiba may be briefly described as follows: The old Halakah was, as its name indicates, the religious practice sanctioned as binding by tradition, to which were added extensions, and, in some cases, limitations, of the Torah, arrived at by strict logical deduction. The opposition offered by the Sadducees—which became especially strenuous in the last century B.C.—originated the halakic Midrash, whose mission it was to deduce these amplifications of the Law, by tradition and logic, out of the Law itself.
It might be thought that with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem—which event made an end of Sadduceeism—the halakic Midrash would also have disappeared, seeing that the Halakah could now dispense with the Midrash. This probably would have been the case had not Akiba created his own Midrash, by means of which he was able "to discover things that were even unknown to Moses" (PesiḲ., Parah, ed. S. Buber, 39b). Akiba 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.
If the older Halakah is to be considered as the product of the internal struggle between Phariseeism and Sadduceeism, the Halakah of Akiba must be conceived as the result of an external contest between Judaism on the one hand and Hellenism and Hellenistic Christianity on the other. Akiba no doubt perceived that the intellectual bond uniting the Jews—far from being allowed to disappear with the destruction of the Jewish state—must be made to draw them closer together than before. He pondered also the nature of that bond. The Bible could never again fill the place alone; for the Christians also regarded it as a divine revelation. 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. Mention has already been made of the fact that Akiba was the creator of a rabbinical Bible version elaborated with the aid of his pupil, Aquila, and designed to become the common property of all Jews, thus Judaizing the Bible, as it were, in opposition to the Christians.
But this was not sufficient to obviate all threatening danger. 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. The example of his colleagues and friends, Elisha ben Abuyah, Ben Azzai, and Ben Zoma strengthened him still more in his conviction of the necessity of providing some counterpoise to the intellectual influence of the non-Jewish world.
[edit] Akiba's Hermeneutic System
Akiba sought to apply the system of isolation followed by the Pharisees (פרושים = those who "separate" themselves) to doctrine as they did to practise, to the intellectual life as they did to that of daily intercourse, and he succeeded in furnishing a firm foundation for his system. As the fundamental principle of his system, Akiba enunciates his conviction that the mode of expression used by the Torah is quite different from that of every other book. In the language of the Torah nothing is mere form; everything is essence. It has nothing superfluous; not a word, not a syllable, not even a letter. Every peculiarity of diction, every particle, every sign, is to be considered as of higher importance, as having a wider relation and as being of deeper meaning than it seems to have. Like Philo (see Siegfried, Philo, p. 168), who saw in the Hebrew construction of the infinitive with the finite form of the same verb—which is readily recognizable in the Septuagint—and in certain particles (adverbs, prepositions, etc.) some deep reference to philosophical and ethical doctrines, Akiba perceived in them indications of many important ceremonial laws, legal statutes, and ethical teachings (compare D. Hoffmann, Zur Einleitung, pp. 5–12, and H. Grätz, Gesch. iv. 427).
He thus gave the Jewish mind not only a new field for its own employment, but, convinced both of the unchangeableness of Holy Scripture and of the necessity for development in Judaism, he succeeded in reconciling these two apparently hopeless opposites by means of his remarkable method. The following two illustrations will serve to make this clear:
• The high conception of woman's dignity, which Akiba shared in common with most other Pharisees, induced him to abolish the Oriental custom that banished women at certain periods from all social intercourse. He succeeded, moreover, in fully justifying his interpretation of those Scriptural passages upon which this ostracism had been founded by the older expounders of the Torah (Sifra, Meẓora, end, and Shab. 64b).
• The Biblical legislation in Ex. xxi. 7 could not be reconciled by Akiba with his view of Jewish ethics: for him a "Jewish slave" is a contradiction in terms, for every Jew is to be regarded as a prince (B. M. 113b). Akiba therefore teaches, in opposition to the old Halakah, that the sale of a daughter under age by her father conveys to her purchaser no legal title to marriage with her, but, on the contrary, carries with it the duty to keep the female slave until she is of age, and then to marry her (Mek., Mishpaṭim, 3). How Akiba endeavors to substantiate this from the Hebrew text is shown by A. Geiger (Urschrift, p. 187).
How little he cared for the letter of the Law whenever he conceives it to be antagonistic to the spirit of Judaism, is shown by his attitude toward the Samaritans. 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 (Sheb. viii. 10) but also eventual intermarriage (ḳid. 75b). This is quite remarkable, seeing that in matrimonial legislation he went so far as to declare every forbidden union as absolutely void (Yeb. 92a) and the offspring as illegitimate (ḳid. 68a). For similar reasons Akiba comes near abolishing the Biblical ordinance of Kilaim; nearly every chapter in the treatise of that name contains a mitigation by Akiba.
Love for the Holy Land, which he as a genuine nationalist frequently and warmly expressed (see Ab. R. N. xxvi.), was so powerful with him that he would have exempted agriculture from much of the rigor of the Law. These examples will suffice to justify the opinion that Akiba was the man to whom Judaism owes preeminently its activity and its capacity for development.
[edit] Religious Philosophy
Goethe's saying, that "in self-restraint is the master shown," is contradicted by Akiba, who, though diametrically opposed to all philosophical speculation, is nevertheless the only tanna to whom we can attribute something like a religious philosophy. A tannaitic tradition (Ḥag. 14b; Tosef., Ḥag. ii. 3) mentions that of the four who entered paradise, Akiba was the only one that returned unscathed. This serves at least to show how strong in later ages was the recollection of Akiba's philosophical speculation (see Elisha b. Abuya).
Akiba's utterances (Abot, iii. 14, 15) may serve to present the essence of his religious conviction. They run:
• How favored is man, for he was created after an image; as Scripture says, "for in an image, Elohim made man" (Gen. ix. 6).
• Everything is foreseen; but freedom [of will] is given to every man.
• The world is governed by mercy... but the divine decision is made by the preponderance of the good or bad in one's actions.
Akiba's anthropology is based upon the principle that man was created בצלם, that is, not in the image of God—which would be בצלם אלהים—but after an image, after a primordial type; or, philosophically speaking, after an Idea—what Philo calls in agreement with Judean theology, "the first heavenly man" (see Adam ḳadmon). Strict monotheist that Akiba was, he protested against any comparison of God with the angels, and declared the plain interpretation of כאחד ממנו (Gen. iii. 22) as meaning "like one of us" to be arrant blasphemy (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 6). It is quite instructive to read how a Christian of Akiba's generation, Justin Martyr, calls the literal interpretation—thus objected to by Akiba—a "Jewish heretical one" (Dial. cum Tryph. lxii.). In his earnest endeavors to insist as strongly as possible upon the incomparable nature of God, Akiba indeed lowers the angels somewhat to the realms of mortals, and, alluding to Ps. lxxviii. 25, maintains that manna is the actual food of the angels (Yoma, 75b). This view of Akiba's, in spite of the energetic protests of his colleague Rabbi Ishmael, became the one generally accepted by his contemporaries, as Justin Martyr, l.c., lvii., indicates.
[edit] Freedom of Will
Against the Judæo-Gnostic doctrine (Recognit. iii. 30; Sifre, Num. 103; Sifra, Wayikra, 2), which teaches that angels—who are spiritual beings—and also that the departed pious, who are bereft of their flesh, can see God, the words of Akiba, in Sifra, l.c., must be noticed. He insists that not even the angels can see God's glory; for he interprets the expression in Ex. xxxiii. 20, "no man can see me and live" (וחי), as if it read "no man or any living immortal can see me."
Akiba insists emphatically that next to the transcendental nature of God, there is no limitation in the freedom of the human will. This insistence is in opposition to the Christian doctrine of the sinfulness and depravity of man, and apparently controverts his view of divine predestination. The inclination towards evil and the inclination towards good can be chosen from equally, and men are not in any way naturally inclined towards evil.
He cautions against those who find excuse for their sins in a supposed innate depravity (ḳid. 81a). But Akiba's opposition to this genetically Jewish doctrine is probably directed mainly against its Christian correlative, the doctrine of the grace of God contingent upon faith in Christ, and baptism. Referring to this, Akiba says, "Happy are ye, O Israelites, that ye purify yourselves through your heavenly Father, as it is said (Jer. xvii. 13, Heb.), 'Israel's hope is God'" (Mishnah Yoma, end). This is a play on the Hebrew word מקוה ("hope" and "bath"). In opposition to the Christian insistence on God's love, Akiba upholds God's retributive justice elevated above all chance or arbitrariness (Mekilta, Beshallaḥ, 6).
[edit] God's Two Attributes
But he is far from representing strict justice as the only attribute of God: in agreement with the ancient Israel theology of the מדת הדין ("the attribute of justice") and מדת הרחמים ("the attribute of mercy") (Gen. R. xii., end; the χαριστική and κολαστική of Philo, Quis Rer. Div. Heres, 34 Mangey, i. 496), he teaches that God combines goodness and mercy with strict justice (Ḥag. 14a). Hence his maxim, referred to above, "God rules the world in mercy, but according to the preponderance of good or bad in human acts."
[edit] Eschatology and Ethics
As to the question concerning the frequent sufferings of the pious and the prosperity of the wicked —truly a burning one in Akiba's time—this is answered by the explanation that the pious are punished in this life for their few sins, in order that in the next they may receive only reward; while the wicked obtain in this world all the recompense for the little good they have done, and in the next world will receive only punishment for their misdeeds (Gen. R. xxxiii.; PesiḲ. ed. S. Buber, ix. 73a). Consistent as Akiba always was, his ethics and his views of justice were only the strict consequences of his philosophical system. Justice as an attribute of God must also be exemplary for man. "No mercy in [civil] justice!" is his basic principle in the doctrine concerning law (Ket. ix. 3), and he does not conceal his opinion that the action of the Jews in taking the spoil of the Egyptians is to be condemned (Gen. R. xxviii. 7).
From his views as to the relation between God and man he deduces the inference that he who sheds the blood of a fellow man is to be considered as committing the crime against the divine archetype (דמות) of man (Gen. R. xxxiv. 14). He therefore recognizes as the chief and greatest principle of Judaism the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. xix. 18; Sifra, ḳedoshim, iv.). 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, according to which Judaism is "simply morality" (Mek., Shirah, 3, 44a, ed. I.H. Weiss). For, in spite of his philosophy, Akiba was an extremely strict and national Jew.
[edit] The Messianic Age
His doctrine concerning the Jewish Messiah was different than other views, and believed Bar Kokba to be the Messiah. He accordingly limited the Messianic age to forty years, as being within the scope of a man's life — similar to the reigns of David and Solomon—against the usual conception of a millennium (Midr. Teh. xc. 15).
[edit] Legends
A man like Akiba would naturally be the subject of many legends. The following examples indicate in what light the personality of this great teacher appeared to later generations.
[edit] His innovative method
"When Moses ascended into heaven, he saw God occupied in making little crowns for the letters of the Torah. Upon his inquiry as to what these might be for, he received the answer, "There will come a man, named Akiba ben Joseph, who will deduce Halakot from every little curve and crown of the letters of the Law." Moses' request to be allowed to see this man was granted; but he became much dismayed as he listened to Akiba's teaching; for he could not understand it" (Men. 29b). This story gives a picture of Akiba's activity as the father of Talmudical Judaism.
[edit] His transformation
The Aggadah explains how Akiba, in the prime of life, commenced his rabbinical studies. Legendary allusion to this change in Akiba's life is made in two slightly varying forms, of which the following is probably the older:
Akiba, noticing a stone at a well that had been hollowed out by drippings from the buckets, said: "If these drippings can, by continuous action, penetrate this solid stone, how much more can the persistent word of God penetrate the pliant, fleshly human heart, if that word but be presented with patient insistency" (Ab. R. N. ed. S. Schechter, vi. 28).
[edit] His martyrdom

Akiba's grave in Tiberias
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.
There is some disagreement about the extent of Akiva's involvement in the Bar Kochba rebellion. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica online)
Akiba's martyrdom—which is an important historical event—gave origin to many legends. The following account of his martyrdom is on a high plane and contains a proper appreciation of his principles: When Rufus—"Tyrannus Rufus," as he is called in Jewish sources—who was the pliant tool of Hadrian's vengeance, condemned the venerable Akiba to the hand of the executioner, it was just the time to recite the Shema. Full of devotion, Akiba recited his prayers calmly, though suffering agonies; and when Rufus asked him whether he was a sorcerer, since he felt no pain, Akiba replied, "I am no sorcerer; but I rejoice at the opportunity now given to me to love my God 'with all my life,' seeing that I have hitherto been able to love Him only 'with all my means' and 'with all my might,'" and with the word "One!" he expired (Yer. Ber. ix. 14b, and somewhat modified in Bab. 61b).
The version in the Babylonian Talmud (Berachot 61b) tells it as a response of Akiva to his students, who asked him how even now—as he is being tortured—he could yet offer prayers to God. 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. And I said to myself, when will I ever be able to fulfill this command? And now that I am finally able to fulfill it, I should not? Then he extended the final word Echad ("One") until his life expired with that word. A heavenly voice went out and announced: "Blessed are you, Rabbi Akiva, that your life expired with "Echad". Pure monotheism was for Akiba the essence of Judaism: he lived, worked, and died for it.
Contrary to the vision (Men. 29b), which sees Akiba's body destined to be exposed for sale in the butcher's shop, legend tells how Elijah, accompanied by Akiba's faithful servant Joshua, entered unperceived the prison where the body lay. Priest though he was, Elijah took up the corpse—for the dead body of such a saint could not defile—and, escorted by many bands of angels, bore the body by night to Cæsarea. The night, however, was as bright as the finest summer's day. When they arrived there, Elijah and Joshua entered a cavern which contained a bed, table, chair, and lamp, and deposited Akiba's body there. No sooner had they left it than the cavern closed of its own accord, so that no man has found it since (Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash, vi. 27, 28; ii. 67, 68; Braunschweiger, Lehrer der Mischnah, 192-206). :) }:)
[edit] His students
Akiba taught thousands of students: on one occasion, twenty-four thousand students of his died in a plague.[5] His five main, last remaining students were Judah bar Ilai, Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Nehemiah, Jose ben Halafta and Shimon bar Yochai.
[edit] His wealth and influence
Akiba's success as a teacher put an end to his poverty; for the wealthy father-in-law now rejoiced to acknowledge a son-in-law so distinguished as Akiba. There were, however, other circumstances which made a wealthy man of the former shepherd lad.
It appears that Akiba, authorized by certain rabbis, borrowed a large sum of money from a prominent heathen woman—a matrona, says the legend. As bondsmen for the loan, Akiba named God and the sea, on the shore of which the matrona's house stood. Akiba, being sick, could not return the money at the time appointed; but his "bondsmen" did not leave him in the lurch. An imperial princess suddenly became insane, in which condition she threw a chest containing imperial treasures into the sea. It was cast upon the shore close to the house of Akiba's creditor, so that when the matrona went to the shore to demand of the sea the amount she had lent Akiba, the ebbing tide left boundless riches at her feet. Later, when Akiba arrived to discharge his indebtedness, the matrona not only refused to accept the money, but insisted upon Akiba's receiving a large share of what the sea had brought to her (Commentaries to Ned. l.c.).
The Talmud also enumerates six occasions in which Akiva gained his wealth (Nedarim, 50a-b). Akiba's many journeys brought numerous adventures, some of which are embellished by legend. Thus in Ethiopia he was once called upon to decide between the swarthy king and the king's wife; the latter having been accused of infidelity because she had borne her lord a white child. Akiba ascertained that the royal chamber was adorned with white marble statuary, and, basing his decision upon a well known physiological theory, he exonerated the queen from suspicion (Num. R. ix. 34). It is related that during his stay in Rome Akiba became intimately acquainted with the Jewish proselyte ḳeṭia' bar Shalom, a very influential Roman—according to some scholars identical with Flavius Clemens, Domitian's nephew, who, before his execution for pleading the cause of the Jews, bequeathed to Akiba all his possessions (Ab. Zarah, 10b).
Another Roman, concerning whose relations with Akiba legend has much to tell, was Tinnius Rufus, called in the Talmud "Tyrannus" Rufus. One day Rufus asked: "Which is the more beautiful—God's work or man's?" "Undoubtedly man's work is the better," was Akiba's reply; "for while nature at God's command supplies us only with the raw material, human skill enables us to elaborate the same according to the requirements of art and good taste." Rufus had hoped to drive Akiba into a corner by his strange question; for he expected quite a different answer from the sage, and intended to compel Akiba to admit the wickedness of circumcision. He then put the question, "Why has God not made man just as He wanted him to be?" "For the very reason," was Akiba's ready answer, "that the duty of man is to perfect himself" (Tan., Tazri'a, 5, ed. S. Buber 7).
[edit] His relationship with his wife

Rabbi Akiba Father of Rabbinic Judaism

By Al Sobo 1964Rabbi Akiba Father of Rabbinic Judaism By Al Sobo 1964