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Friday, Iyar 21, 5780 / May 15, 2020 (36th day of the Omer)


One of the many teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov is that from whatever a person hears and sees they must take a lesson from it. Everything is by Divine Providence, so if G-d made something come our way there must be a lesson in this for us.


Tuesday we have celebrated Lag B’Omer, the day when Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s neshama-soul connected with its maker. Rabbi Shimon's teacher was the great Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva’s life story teaches us a remarkable lesson; that through determination and will power, a person can accomplish almost anything.  It also proves the above mentioned point of the Baal Shem Tov that from everything a person should take a lesson, for G-d put it in their path for that purpose.


Rabbi Akiva was an ignorant shepherd who worked for Kalba Savua, one of the wealthiest men in Israel at that time.  Kalba Savua had a beautiful and talented daughter, Rachel, who recognized Akiva's spiritual potential qualities.  They married without her father's knowledge.  When Kalba Savua found out, he was enraged and drove the couple away from his home to live in great poverty.


Rachel encouraged her husband to go study Torah. Akiva, who was 40 years old, didn't even know the Hebrew Aleph Bet! Akiva was so sensitive about his ignorance that he actually hated Torah scholars. Rachel, however, urged him to study Torah in Jerusalem, but Akiva was hesitant.  He didn't believe that at forty he had a chance. 


One day, Akiva passed by a large rock on which drops of water continuously fell.  Upon closer examination, Akiva noticed that the water made an indentation in the rock.  Akiva thought, "If water, which is so soft, can make an impression on a rock, surely the Torah can make an impression in my heart and mind!"


Akiva then decided to listen to his wife and left for the Yeshiva.  Upon being accepted in the Yeshiva, he sat together with little children and learned the Aleph Bet.  Akiva dedicated his entire being to studying Torah and excelled greatly.  He eventually became one of the leading Sages in Israel and had thousands of students.


Our Sages divide Rabbi Akiva's life in three stages: 40 years he was ignorant; 40 years he studied; and for 40 years, he was the great Sage and teacher.  Rabbi Akiva passed away at the age of 120.  Rabbi Akiva always gave credit for all his accomplishments to his wife, Rachel.  He told his students, "All my Torah and all the Torah which you have learned from me belongs to her!"


Rabbi Akiva took a lesson from a stone and became the great sage for all generations.


Shabbat we read Behar & Bechukotei, the last two Parshiot in the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra).




Montrealcandle lighting time: 8:00 / Shabbat ends: 9:14