Approaching Lag B’Omer this year, we @shabboshouse (on Twitter) wrote a bunch of tweets (all under 140 characters!) about life and teachings of the great Rabbi Akiva. We once did a whole TorahTues class on this using selections from the Talmud. Some of these tweets were illustrated/accompanied by banners painted by Maimonides School (Albany NY) students for their Lag B’Omer Parade this year (hope to post the pictures soon!)

#LagBOmer celebrates #RabbiShimonBarYochai but #Omer period recalls his teacher #RabbiAkiva. Will tweet tidbits of his life & teaching.

#RabbiAkiva was ignorant shepherd at 40. Beautiful & wealthy Rachel saw something in him, said she’d marry him if he’d go and study Torah.

Erosion inspired #RabbiAkiva. He saw water droplets wore a hole in stone & felt assured Torah could affect him too.

Some of these #RabbiAkiva tweets are illustrated by banners painted by @MaimonideSchool students for their #LagBOmer Parade this year.

Her father disowned them. In their poverty #RabbiAkiva wished to buy Rachel a golden tiara w/ Jerusalem skyline.

Btw, later in life #RabbiAkiva did have that Jerusalem tiara made as a gift for his wife Rachel. The Talmud references it.

The Talmud describes their poverty & #RabbiAkiva picking straw out of his once-wealthy wife’s hair. Her sacrifice & vision was legendary.

Once while on straw beds a poor man came & asked for some straw. #RabbiAkiva & Rachel then felt blessed. Others had less, they could give!

#RabbiAkiva went to study alongside his young son. They studied Torah basics from the same tablet (not modern kind).

#RabbiAkiva’s teachers ranged from tolerant, understanding & congenial #RabbiJoshua to independent, intense & determined #RabbiEliezer.

In their arguments #RabbiJoshua often emphasized earthly realities while #RabbiEliezer idealized Heaven. #RabbiAkiva blended best of both.

#RabbiAkiva learned hungrily! Like at a fair, he filled his bag with a little of everything & then sorted & organized it when he got home.

1/2: #RabbiAkiva’s long years of study & absence from home are hard to understand. But as a BaalTeshuva returning from 5 years of study >

2/2: > in Israel told me “Time flew! It felt like two weeks…” Regardless, #RabbiAkiva had Rachel’s full support to do it.

As we approach #LagBOmer tonight, will try one more day of #RabbiAkiva tweets. He lived 1900 years ago but remains ever so relevant today.

My favorite #RabbiAkiva song is by YomTovEhrlich (Yiddish) & book is Akiba by Marcus Lehman. And the original Talmud of course!

When challenged how man can improve on G-d’s handiwork with circumcision, #RabbiAkiva brought out a sheaf of wheat and a loaf of bread.

#RabbiAkiva would say: Beloved are people who are created in Divine Image. Even more beloved is when we realize it!

Some #RabbiAkiva tweets illustrated by banners painted by @maimonideschool students for #LagBOmer Parade this Thursday in Albany.

Unlike some colleagues, #RabbiAkiva “came in peace & went out in peace” re: the deepest mystical “Orchard” of Torah.

#RabbiAkiva served as charity fundraiser. He coaxed/cajoled wealthy #RabbiTarfon to be more supportive of the poor, viewing as investment.

Not only was #RabbiAkiva a late bloomer himself; his family were converts. Yet that didnt keep him from being 1 of Israel’s greatest Rabbis!

#RabbiAkiva’s best known beloved teaching: LoveYourFellow is Torah’s great principle. Ironically his own students suffered from lack of it.

#RabbiAkiva’s Fox&Fish parable on endangering his life to teach Torah. As fish in water, our survival is Torah!

#RabbiAkiva was such a colorful person with so many life lessons I can go on tweeting… but the next will be the last. At least for now!

One last #RabbiAkiva tweet. He said Shema while the Romans killed him with hot iron rakes. His soul took flight at the word ECHAD: One!

There’s so much (more!) that we can learn from Rabbi Akiva!