Akiba ben Joseph

Jewish scholar and sage (c. 50 – c.135)

Akiva ben Yosef (Mishnaic Hebrew: עֲקִיבָא בֶּן יוֹסֵף, ʿĂqīḇāʾ ben Yōsēp̄; c. 50 – 28 September 135 CE), also known as Rabbi Akiva (רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא), was a leading Jewish scholar and sage, a tanna of the latter part of the first century and the beginning of the second century. Rabbi Akiva was a leading contributor to the Mishnah and to Midrash halakha. He is referred to in the Talmud as Rosh la-Hakhamim "Chief of the Sages". He was executed by the Romans in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Quotes edit

Jesting and levity accustom a man to lewdness. The tradition is a fence around the Law (Torah); Tithes are a fence around riches; vows are a fence around abstinence; a fence around wisdom is silence.[1]

All things are foreseen [by God], yet the choice is given [unto man], and the world is judged on [its] merits; yet, all is according to the preponderance of works, rather than the deed.[2]

A plebeian cannot be pious, neither can a bashful man learn, nor a stern man teach![3]

Poverty is comely unto Jacob's daughter as a red lace on the head of a white horse.[4]

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Leviticus 19:18) - This is the all-embracing principle of the divine law.[5]

Good humor is a safeguard to one's honor.[6]

More than what a disciple[7] desires to learn,[8] his mentor[9] desires to teach.[10][11]

Modesty is a favorite theme with Rabbi Akiva, and he reverts to it again and again:

Take your place a few seats below your rank until you are bidden to take a higher place; for it is better that they should say to you 'Come up higher' than that they should bid you 'Go down lower'.[12][13]

He who esteems himself highly on account of his knowledge is like a corpse lying on the wayside: the traveler turns his head away in disgust, and walks quickly by.[12][14]

A further example of Rabbi Akiva's oratory skills is in his funeral address over his son Simon. To the large assembly gathered on the occasion, he said:[12]

  • “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 Akiva; 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.[12][15]” — {{{2}}}

Other quotes edit

  • 'Love your fellow as yourself'- Rabbi Akiva says: This is the great principal of the Torah
    • Jerusalem Talmud Nedarim 30b
  • Jesting and levity lead a man to lewdness.
  • Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of God.
  • Beloved are Israel, for they were called children of the All-present.
  • Nothing in the entire world is worthy but for that day on which The Song of Songs was given to Israel
  • Who is wealthy?... Rabbi Akiva says: Anyone who has a wife whose actions are pleasant
  • (To his 24,000 pairs of students) My (Torah knowledge) and yours are hers (his wife)
  • All my days I have been troubled by the verse: "With all your soul", meaning: Even if God takes your soul. I said to myself: When will the opportunity be afforded me to fulfill this verse?

Quotes about Rabbi Akiva edit

  • Rabbi Yehuda said: This was the custom of Rabbi Akiva, when he would pray with the congregation he would shorten (his prayer) and go up, due to encumbrance on the congregation. But when he prayed by himself a person would leave (Rabbi Akiva alone) in one corner and find him in another corner. And why so much? Because of his bows and prostrations.
  • Rabbi Tarfon said: Akiva, anyone who separates from you, it is as though he has separated from life
  • They said about Rabbi Akiva that in all his days he never said (to his students that the)” time had come to arise in the study hall”. except for the eves of Passover and the eve of Yom Kippur

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about:
  1. editors, editors (1978). Six Orders of the Mishnah – Seder Nezīqīn (Pirḳe Avot 3:14). Jerusalem: Eshkol. 
  2. editors, editors (1978). Six Orders of the Mishnah – Seder Nezīqīn (Pirḳe Avot 3:15). Jerusalem: Eshkol. 
  3. Yerushalmi, Shemuel (n.d.). Avot de-Rabbi Nathan (26:3). Jerusalem: Masoret. 
  4. editors, editors (1987). Midrash Rabba (Leviticus Rabba 35:5). New York: Gross Bros.. 
  5. Mielziner, Moses (1925). Introduction to the Talmud (3rd edition); Sifra (on Leviticus 19:18). New York. p. 279. 
  6. Yerushalmi, Shemuel (n.d.). Avot de-Rabbi Nathan (26:1). Jerusalem: Masoret. 
  7. Lit. "calf"
  8. Lit. "suck"
  9. Lit. "the cow"
  10. Lit. "give suck"
  11. editors, editors (1980). The Babylonian Talmud (Pesachim 112a). Jerusalem: Menaqed. 
  12. a b c d Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named je
  13. Avot of Rabbi Natan, ed. Solomon Schechter, xi. 46
  14. Leviticus Rabbah i. 5. The same saying is quoted also in the name of Simeon ben Azzai.
  15. Evel Rabbati viii., Mo'ed Katan 21b