[Avodah] R. Akiva, Bar Kochba and Zecharya HaNovi

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Oct 11 07:30:03 PDT 2017

On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 06:30:27AM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: On 11/10/17 01:24, hankman via Avodah wrote:
:> How could R. Akiva have mistaken Bar Kochba for Moshiach, since
:> non of the nevuos of Zecharya HaNovi that we read in the recent
:> haftorah (splitting of Har HaZeitim etc., etc) for the period
:> precedent to Moshiach had yet occurred?

: The Rambam, whose shita is based on R Akiva, explicitly paskens that
: none of these nevuos need to be fulfilled literally.  Any that
: aren't can be interpreted metaphorically to fit whatever political
: and military events actually do take place around the geulah.

While the Rambam cites R' Aqiva's following Bar Koziba (H Melahim 11:2)
as proof that the melekh hamoshiach doesn't have to do miracles, is his
position really "based on" R Aqiva's? For example, in 11:4 he describes
the moshiach as being "hogeh baTorah ve'oseiq bemitzvos keDavid aviv"
which I don't think fit Bar Kokhva even in his hayday. Nor had "veyakhof
kol Yisrael leileikh bah" yet either -- the Perushim were in the minority.

More clearly is his basing himself on Shemu'el (Sanhedrin 91b) when
he quotes him in 12:2, "Chakhamim said: ein bein ha'olam hazeh liymos
hamoshiach ela shib'ud malkhios bilvad." It's interesting that rather than
repeating the quote beshrim omero -- a funny thing to do when discussing
the ge'ula le'lam that giving the source is supposed to bring -- he
attributes the quote to Chakhamim, as though he knew it was consensus
and Rav's position deprecated. After all, the Rambam himself says that
we can't decide machloqesim in these thingxs.

So it could be that the Rambam did indeed base himself on R Aqiva, but
then we would have to say that the Rambam held that R Aqiva was waiting
for the rest of the nevu'ah to come true.

Or not -- maybe his basic source was Shemu'el, and this one proof doesn't
imply derivation.

And given that the BK Revolt was c. 132-135 CE, it is likely that R'
Aqiva expected the war to go on 7 years, as per statements in the gemara
about chevlei moshiach. This would time the end of the war with 70 years
after the churban, like the return after churban bayis 1.

But whether that conjecture is true or not, the relevant idea that R
Aqiva could be backing BK thinking the rest of the expectations about
the moshiach simply hadn't happened /yet/. Which the Rambam would have
to invoke even for his more mundane list of things the moshiach will

In 12:1 the Rambam denies the literalness of Yeshaiah's and Yirmiyahu's
description of the messianic era in terms of wolves, leopards and lions
going vegetarian. But since the splitting of Har haZeirim need not be
lemaalah min hateva, do we know whether the Rambam would have placed it
in the same rule? If not, the "expected it will happen in the future"
answer could cover that earthquake (?) as much as it can cover BK spending
all his spare time learning and doing mitzvos or his being meqareiv the
vast majority of Kelal Yisrael.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A sick person never rejects a healing procedure
micha at aishdas.org        as "unbefitting." Why, then, do we care what
http://www.aishdas.org   other people think when dealing with spiritual
Fax: (270) 514-1507      matters?              - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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