Akiva ben Joseph (50-135 c.e.)

Akiva ben Joseph (50-135 c.e.) A rabbi and talmudic scholar who was considered one of the greatest teachers of Judaism. According to legend, he was a shepherd who began his Jewish education late, at the age of 40, but his determination and love of learning proved him a natural scholar. He collected and arranged the whole Oral Law according to subjects, which laid the foundation for the editing of the Mishnah. Many of his wise sayings and teachings about learning and Jewish law are contained in Pirke Avot. When Roman conquerors forbid the study of Torah, Akiva continued teaching. He then supported Shimon bar Kokhba in his messianic revolt against the Romans. This fatal mistake led to Rabbi Akiva’s death. His martyrdom is legendary. As he was tortured to death, he continued to recite the words to the Shema. Akiva died for kiddush ha-Shem, the sanctification of God’s name.

c.e. n. English The abbreviation for “Common Era.” When writing the date, Jews often use the religiously neutral c.e. in place of a.d. (Anno Domini), which means “Year of Our Lord.” This is because Jews don’t believe that Jesus is the Lord, although they do mark time according to the year of his birth. For example, a Jew might write, “Columbus sailed to America in 1492 c.e.” 1492 c.e. is identical to 1492 a.d.

Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The JPS dictionary of Jewish words. Over 1000 entries for Jewish holidays and life-cycle events, culture, history, the Bible and other sacred texts, and worship. Each entry has a pronunciation guide and is cross-referenced to related terms.; “A JPS desk reference”–cover. (3). Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society.

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