Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Rabbi Akiva, fully Rebbe Akiva ben Yosef NULL

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

"Silence is a defence to wisdom."

""Love thy neighbor" is the Torah's greatest principle."

"Rejoice in adversity even more than in prosperity, for suffering brings forgiveness of sin."

"Whatsoever is hateful unto thee, do it not unto thy neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, the rest is but commentary."

"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."

"Everything is foreseen (by G-d), yet freedom of choice is given; and the world is judged with grace, yet all is according to the amount of work accomplished."

"Whatever G-d does is for the best."

"Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you."

"Which is the more beautiful—God’s work or man’s?" "Undoubtedly man's work is the better," was Akiva's reply; "for while nature at God's command supplies us only with the raw material, human skill enables us to elaborate the same according to the requirements of art and good taste.""

"I am no sorcerer; but I rejoice at the opportunity now given to me to love my God 'with all my life,' seeing that I have hitherto been able to love Him only 'with all my means' and 'with all my might,'" and with the word "One! [before dying]"

"Akiva, noticing a stone at a well that had been hollowed out by drippings from the buckets, said: "If these drippings can, by continuous action, penetrate this solid stone, how much more can the persistent word of God penetrate the pliant, fleshly human heart, if that word but be presented with patient insistency""

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

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

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

"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."

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

"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."

"The paper burns, but the words fly away."

"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.'"

"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."

"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."

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

"A fence to wisdom is silence."

"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]"

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

"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."