Rabbi Akiva, fully Rebbe Akiva ben Yosef

Rabbi Akiva, fully Rebbe Akiva ben Yosef
c. 40
c. 137

Jewish Sage, Founder of Rabbinic Judaism, , referred to in the Talmud as "Rosh la-Chachamim" (Head of all the Sages)

Author Quotes

A fence to wisdom is silence.

Beloved are Israel, for they were called children of G-d. . .

Beloved are Israel, for unto them was given the desirable Torah.

Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of G-d.

Everything is given on pledge, and a net is spread over all the living: the shop is open; and the shopkeeper gives credit; and the ledger lies open; and the hand writes; and whosoever wishes to borrow may come and borrow; but the collectors regularly make their daily rounds; and exact payment from man, whether he is willing or not.

Hashem is so eager to receive our teshuvah that He is willing to accept even the slightest bit of it - as long as it is sincere! "Just as a mikveh purifies the impure" - even if afterwards he is still impure in a dozen other ways - "so Hashem purifies the Jewish people" to the extent that we seek that purity by doing teshuvah. [paraphrase]

Jesting and frivolity lead a man on to immorality.

Love your fellow as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah.

Man is indeed the beloved creature, and Israel has been chosen to receive the Torah; that is why one's responsibility is all the greater. And so he reminds us:

Study leads to action, we need to not only accept the responsibility to act, but also expose ourselves to the circumstances in which action is necessary [paraphrase].

The Massorah (Tradition) is a fence to the Torah.

Tithes (the prescribed Tzedoko, charity) are a fence to riches.

Vows (self-restraint) are a fence to a holy life.

We have no more room here to give you many more of his great sayings and teachings, so we will conclude with one of his favorite sayings, which will do us good to remember always.

Teach disciples in thy youth, and do not stop teaching in thy old age.

Rabbi Akiba was once called upon to read to the congregation a portion of the Torah, but he did not want to do it. His amazed disciples asked him, 'Master, have you not taught us that the Torah is our life and the length of our days? Why did you refuse to read it to the congregation?' And Rabbi Akiba replied, simply: 'Believe me, I had not prepared myself for it; for no man should address words of Torah to the public unless he has first revised them to himself three or four times.

All my learning is no more than like the fragrance of an Ethrog; the one who scents it, enjoys it; but the Ethrog loses nothing. Or it is as one who draws water from a spring, or lights a candle from a candle.

A heathen once came to Rabbi Akiba, and asked him, 'Who created the world?'

'G-d created the world,' Rabbi Akiba replied.

'Prove it to me,' persisted the heathen.

'Come back tomorrow,' Rabbi Akiba told him.

The following day the heathen came back, and Rabbi Akiba engaged him in conversation. 'What are you wearing?', Rabbi Akiba asked him.

'A cloak, as you see.'

'Who made it?' Rabbi Akiba asked.

'The weaver, of course.'

'I don't believe it; prove it to me!' Rabbi Akiba persisted.

'What proof do you want? Cannot you see that the weaver has made the cloth?'

'Then why do you ask for proof that G-d created the world? Cannot you see that the Holy One blessed be He created it.'

And to his disciples Rabbi Akiba added, 'My children, just as the house is proof of the builder, and the cloth is proof of the weaver, and the door is proof of the joiner, so this world proclaims that G-d created it.'

The paper burns, but the words fly away.

Like a twisted olive tree in its 500th year, giving then its finest fruit, is man. How can he give forth wisdom until he has been crushed and turned in the Hand of God.

Everything is foreseen, yet free will is granted;By goodness is the universe judged,yet all depends on the preponderance of(good)deeds.

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.

The world is governed by mercy... but the divine decision is made by the preponderance of the good or bad in one's actions.

Everything is foreseen; but freedom [of will] is given to every man.

How favored is man, for he was created after an image; as Scripture says, "for in an image, Elohim made man"

Author Picture
First Name
Rabbi Akiva, fully Rebbe Akiva ben Yosef
Birth Date
c. 40
Death Date
c. 137

Jewish Sage, Founder of Rabbinic Judaism, , referred to in the Talmud as "Rosh la-Chachamim" (Head of all the Sages)