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Rabbi Akiva and Tinneius Rufus

Rabbi Akiva and Tinneius Rufus


Tinneius Rufus, the Roman ambassador to Judea at the beginning of the second century, asked Rabbi Akiva, “Why does G‑d hate us? It says in Malachi 1:3, ‘I hate Esau (progenitor of Rome).’”

Rabbi Akiva replied, “Tomorrow I’ll give you an answer.”

The next day, he asked him, “Rabbi Akiva, what did you dream last night?”

Rabbi Akiva said, “Last night I dreamed about two dogs, one named Rufus and one named Rufina.”

Tinneius Rufus got angry. “How dare you call dogs with the same names as me and my wife? You deserve to be sentenced to death!”

Rabbi Akiva asked, “What’s the difference between you and the dogs? You eat and drink, and they eat and drink; you procreate, and they procreate; you will ultimately die, and so will they.

“You got angry because they were called by the same name as you?! G‑d made the heavens and the earth, He brings death and brings life, and yet you take a piece of wood and call it ‘god,’ the same as His name—how could He not hate you?”

Midrash Tanchuma, Terumah 3
Translated by Esther Rabi.
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