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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 16, 2005 / 18 Iyar, 5766

Giving a Lag B'Omer hero his due

By Rabbi Berel Wein


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Remembering the ultimate outsider of Jewish life who became the ultimate teacher of all Jewish generations


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even though the popular hero of the minor festival of Lag B'Omer, today, is Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, I have always felt that the central and most pivotal figure of that very turbulent period of Jewish history is Rabbi Akiva.


Rabbi Akiva was the teacher and mentor of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and his presence dominated his generation. Rabbi Akiva is one of the most famous and beloved figures in Jewish history. The Talmud records that a great scholar upon meeting Rabbi Akiva for the first time exclaimed: "Is that you, Akiva ben Yosef, whose name and reputation is known from one end of the world to the other?"


Rabbi Akiva's name and reputation has not only journeyed from one end of the world to the other, it has journeyed for almost nineteen hundred years in the hearts and souls of the Jewish people. Rabbi Akiva suffered a martyr's death at the hands of the Romans after the bitter failed conclusion of Bar Kochba's rebellion against Roman rule in about 140 CE. Rabbi Akiva was originally a staunch supporter of the rebellion and of Bar Kochba personally, even seeing in him messianic potential. But he found Bar Kochba's later behavior and brutality towards the scholars of Israel most objectionable and withdrew his original support of him and his cause. Rabbi Akiva then rallied his students round him to rebuild the Jewish people through the only trusted and time-proven method known to us — the study, knowledge and observance of Torah. In this respect he proved himself to be true savior of Israel.


Rabbi Akiva was the ultimate outsider in Jewish life. In this I mean he came to his greatness not because of family lineage or privileged scholarship. He was descended from converts to Judaism and for the first forty years of his life was ignorant of Torah, hateful of Torah scholars and served in the lowly profession of being a shepherd. In a dramatic story of love and devotion, his wife Rachel, who married him against the wishes of her family, convinced him to devote himself to Torah study.


Decades later after he achieved his fame as the leading scholar of Israel, he stated to his students: "All that I am and all that you are regarding our Torah studies and erudition is entirely due to her credit!"


Rabbi Akiva at different stages of his career taught Torah to tens of thousands of students. Tragically, the Talmud relates to us, that twenty-four thousand of his students died during the period of sefiras haomer — the period of time between Passover and Shavuos. Though the Talmud does not tell us what the immediate cause of their deaths was, it does indicate that their lack of respect for one another was the prime spiritual factor that triggered this tragedy.


On Lag B'Omer they stopped dying. This tragic event, the source of the mourning period in Jewish life observed during this time, is the reason why Lag B'Omer is treated as a minor holiday. Rabbi Akiva's great personal resilience in continuing to disseminate Torah after such a tragedy and after the national tragedy of Bar Kochba's defeat and death speaks volumes about his character and greatness. In this he taught future generations of Jewish greats never to give up. And, throughout Jewish history the resilience of the Torah scholars and their students has saved Israel from destruction and possible extinction. Rabbi Akiva showed the way to Jewish survival for all times.

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Rabbi Akiva's students, especially Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda ben Ilayi and others, continued the work of their master and teacher. These are the scholars who appear everywhere in the Mishna and continued the traditions and knowledge of the Oral Law under the most difficult circumstances of Roman rule and persecution. In the maelstrom of such times, the great men of Israel held the Jewish people safe and strong with their beliefs and inner convictions.


The spirit and strength of Rabbi Akiva lived on in the work of his immediate next generation. Through them he became the model and teacher for all later Jewish generations as well.


The period of sefiras haomer together with its commemorative day of Lag B'Omer serve to remind us of Rabbi Akiva, his life and accomplishments. Rabbi Akiva, who began as the ultimate outsider of Jewish life, became the ultimate hero and teacher of all Jewish generations.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein --- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com. Comment by clicking here.


© 2006, Rabbi Berel Wein