Random Quote #41 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala

Hereto hangs a tale stranger than fiction, yet founded on fact.
Rabbi Akiva was once a poor shepherd in the employ of Calba
Shevua, one of the richest men in all Jerusalem. While engaged
in that lowly occupation his master's only daughter fell in love
with him, and the two carried on a clandestine courtship for
some time together. Her father, hearing of it, threatened to
disinherit her, to turn her out of doors and disown her
altogether, if she did not break off her engagement. How could
she connect herself with one who was the base-born son of a
proselyte, a reputed descendant of Sisera and Jael, an ignorant
fellow that could neither read nor write, and a man old enough
to be her father? Rachel--for that was her name--determined to
be true to her lover, and to brave the consequences by marrying
him and exchanging the mansion of her father for the hovel of
her husband. After a short spell of married life she prevailed
upon her husband to leave her for a while in order to join a
certain college in a distant land, where she felt sure that his
talents would be recognized and his genius fostered into
development worthy of it. As he sauntered along by himself he
began to harbor misgivings in his mind as to the wisdom of the
step, and more than once thought of returning. But when musing
one day at a resting-place a waterfall arrested his attention,
and he remarked how the water, by its continual dropping, was
wearing away the solid rock. All at once, with the tact for
which he was afterward so noted, he applied the lesson it
yielded to himself. "So may the law," he reasoned, "work its way
into my hard and stony heart;" and he felt encouraged and
pursued his journey. Under the tuition of Rabbi Eliezer, the son
of Hyrcanus, and Rabbi Yehoshua, the son of Chananiah, his
native ability soon began to appear, his name became known to
fame, and he rose step by step until he ranked as a professor in
the very college which he had entered as a poor student. After
some twelve years of hard study and diligent service in the law
he returned to Jerusalem, accompanied by a large number of
disciples. On nearing the dwelling of his devoted wife he caught
the sound of voices in eager conversation. He paused awhile and
listened at the door, and overheard a gossiping neighbor blaming
Rachel for her _mesalliance_, and twitting her with marrying a
man who could run away and leave her as a widow for a dozen of
years or more on the crazy pretext of going to college. He
listened in eager curiosity, wondering what the reply would be.
To his surprise, he heard his self-sacrificing wife exclaim,
"Would that my husband were here and could listen to me; I
should permit, nay, urge him to stay other twelve years, if it
would benefit him." Strange to say Akiva taking the hint from
his wife, turned away and left Jerusalem without ever seeing
her. He went abroad again for a time, and then returned for
good; this time, so the story says, with twice twelve thousand
disciples. Well-nigh all Jerusalem turned out to do him honor,
every one striving to be foremost to welcome him. Calba Shevua,
who for many a long year had repented of his hasty resolution,
which cost him at once his daughter and his happiness, went to
Akiva to ask his opinion about annulling this vow. Akiva replied
by making himself known as his quondam servant and rejected
son-in-law. As we may suppose, the two were at once reconciled,
and Calba Shevua looked upon himself as favored of Heaven above
all the fathers in Israel.

The Rabbis say that at first they used to communicate the Divine name of
twelve letters to every one. But when the Antinomians began to abound,
the knowledge of this name was imparted only to the more discreet of the
priestly order, and they repeated it hastily while the other priests
pronounced the benediction of the people. (What the name was, says
Rashi, is not known.) Rabbi Tarphon, the story goes on to say, once
listened to the high priest, and overheard him hurriedly pronouncing
this name of twelve letters while the other priests were blessing the

THE TALMUD, _Kiddushin_, fol. 71, col. 1.


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