Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Poverty of Rabbi Akiva and Rachel


"Each day R’ Akiva would bring a bundle of wood. Half he would sell to support himself, and the other half he would use for his own needs. His neighbors complained, saying to him, ‘Akiva! You have destroyed us with smoke! Sell the wood to us, and purchase oil with the money and study by the light of a lamp!’

"He replied, ‘I meet many needs with the wood; I use part to study, part to warm myself and part on which to sleep.’

"R’ Akiva will make paupers liable for judgment, for when they are asked [by Gd], ‘Why did you not learn Torah’ and they reply, ‘Because we were poor,’ they will be told, ‘R’ Akiva was exceptionally poor and destitute!’ And when they say, ‘We had children,’ they will be told, ‘R’ Akiva had sons and daughters.’ But they will say: It is because of the merit of his wife Rachel.

"R’ Akiva went to study Torah when he was forty years old. After thirteen years he taught Torah publicly.

"They said: He did not pass away until he had tables of silver and gold, and he ascended to his bed with ladders of gold. His wife had tunics and a "City of Gold" ornament. His students said: Our master, you have embarrassed us with what you have made for her! R’ Akiva replied: She endured great pain with me, for Torah."

(Avot d'Rabbi Natan 6:2)

Have a great day,

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