The Legacy of Rabbi Akiva’s Disciples: Understanding the Mourning of the Omer Count

The days of counting the Omer are days of mourning, following the passing of twenty-four thousand disciples of Rabbi Akiva. And why did they die? Because they didn’t treat each other with respect.

Rebbe Rabbi Yoshiayao Yosef Pinto explained in his lesson the reason for determining mourning following the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students and the connection to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

At the beginning of his speech, Rabbi Pinto explained: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one of Rabbi Akiva’s most important students. And the Sages say: Twenty-four thousand disciples became Rabbi Akiva, and they all died in one chapter because they did not show respect to one another.

He made it difficult: for many years it was difficult for us, for such an easy sin – twenty-four thousand disciples would die. Twenty-four thousand students will die for not treating each other with respect?

Rabbi Pinto explained: But it is possible to explain and say, Rabbi Akiva was the foundation and symbol of the Oral Torah, and it is known that the Oral Torah is passed down by tradition from generation to generation, and if there is no tradition in the Torah that is passed down from generation to generation – God forbid there is a danger that the Torah will be forgotten from Israel, and therefore the uniqueness of the Oral Torah – is by passing on from generation to generation the Oral Torah, and this; Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it to Joshua and Joshua to the elders and elders to the prophets and prophets from Serva to the people of the Great Assembly. From generation to generation, the Torah was passed.

And Rabbi Akiva’s disciples who did not show respect to each other, the Sages said that their eyes were narrow with each other, and what was their eyes narrow about? In Torah study, and because their eyes were narrow, the Torah had to stop at Rabbi Akiva’s students, because their eyes were narrow with each other, and they were not happy about the transmission of the Torah from generation to generation.

If so, Rabbi Pinto added, this was a danger to the continued existence of the Torah and to the continuation of the Jewish people, because without the holy Torah there is no nation of Israel, as it is written: “I coveted day and night the constitutions of heaven and earth I did not put down.” If so, this was the great measure of judgment on Rabbi Akiva’sstudents, in that their eyes were narrow with each other.

They taught and did not teach to each other, and so there was no continuation and observance of the Torah to continue working from generation to generation, and this was the great observance on which twenty-four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva died.

But Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was the root and foundation that continued the power of the Torah from Rav Akiva to future generations, and it was the continuation that the Torah would not stop at the behavior of Rabbi Akiva’s students, who did not show respect to each other and whose eyes were narrow and did not allow the Torah to continue.

In conclusion he said: According to this, it will be understood why Rabbi Akiva gave his life for studying the Torah. Because Rabbi Akiva knew that his disciples had sinned by not giving existence and continuation to the Torah, by not passing on the Torah to future generations. Therefore, Rabbi Akiva, even though it was decreed that whoever studied Torah would die, in order to do the opposite of what his students did who did not want to continue the Torah to the next generation because of narrow eyes, he stood and gave his life for studying the Torah, even though he knew he would be killed for it and put to death for it, he gave his life in this matter and in this thing.

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