Random Quote #44 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala
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Once, as the Rabbis tell us, the Roman Government issued a decree
forbidding Israel to study the law. Whereupon Pappus, the son of
Yehudah, one day found Rabbi Akiva teaching it openly to multitudes,
whom he had gathered round him to hear it. "Akiva," said he, "art thou
not afraid of the Government?" "List," was the reply, "and I will tell
thee how it is by a parable. It is with me as with the fishes whom a
fox, walking once by a river's side, saw darting distractedly to and fro
in the stream; and, addressing, inquired, 'From what, pray, are ye
fleeing?' 'From the nets,' they replied, 'which the children of men have
set to ensnare us.' 'Why, then,' rejoined the fox, 'not try the dry land
with me, where you and I can live together, as our fathers managed to do
before us?' 'Surely,' exclaimed they, 'thou art not he of whom we have
heard so much as the most cunning of animals, for herein thou art not
wise, but foolish. For if we have cause to fear where it is natural for
us to live, how much more reason have we to do so where we needs must
die!' Just so," continued Akiva, "is it with us who study the law, in
which (Deut. xxx. 20) it is written, 'He is thy life and the length of
thy days;' for if we suffer while we study the law, how much more shall
we if we neglect it?" Not many days after, it is related, this Rabbi
Akiva was apprehended and thrown into prison. As it happened, they led
him out for execution just at the time when "Hear, O Israel!" fell to be
repeated, and as they tore his flesh with currycombs, and as he was with
long-drawn breath sounding forth the word one, his soul departed from
him. Then came forth a voice from heaven which said, "Blessed art thou,
Rabbi Akiva, for thy soul and the word one left thy body together."

THE TALMUD, _Berachoth_, fol. 61, col. 2.



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