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Where Rabbi Akiva Saw Joy

Where Rabbi Akiva Saw Joy


When the great Rabbi Eliezer fell ill, his devoted disciples came to visit him. He said to them, “There is a fierce wrath in the world,” implying that G‑d was punishing him.

The students broke into tears.

Looking up, they noticed that Rabbi Akiva was laughing.

“How can you laugh at a time like this?” they inquired.

“Tell me,” countered Rabbi Akiva, “why do you weep?”

They answered, “Shall we witness a veritable Torah scroll lie in pain, and not cry?”

“That’s exactly why I am laughing,” replied Rabbi Akiva. “As long as I saw that our master’s wine did not turn sour, his flax did not go bad, his oil did not spoil and his preserves did not become rancid, I thought, G‑d forbid, that he might have received all his reward in this world, leaving nothing for the next. Now that I see suffering, I rejoice, knowing that his reward will be given to him in the world to come.”

Hearing this, Rabbi Eliezer said to his prized student, “Akiva, have I neglected anything of the whole Torah? Why should I deserve even this suffering?”

Said Rabbi Akiva: “My master, you yourself have quoted the verse to us, ‘For there is not a just man upon earth who does good and does not sin.’”1

Sanhedrin 101a
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Jorge Qro. Mexico May 30, 2016

The afterlife will be like this present life? I'm worried, would this mean that in the world to come suffering will not be vanished? Because, it follows, that only those whose suffering is constant, in the world to come they will be freed from it. We all suffer, at times, not constantly. We sometimes do good and sometimes we sin. Then in the afterlife these things are not going to change. Reply

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