[Avodah] Examples of disrespect among chachamim circa R. Akiva and the deathly consequences

Zvi Lampel zvilampel at gmail.com
Mon May 13 16:31:29 PDT 2024

Rabbi Ari Kahn cites two Gemaras in which Rabbi Akiva himself criticizes a
chacham for lack of sufficient respect for another chacham, and the deathly
consequence Rabbi Akiva attributed to such behavior. (My translations.)

*Nedarim 40a* … one of Rabbi Akiva's disciples fell sick, but Sages did not
visit him. Rabbi Akiva entered [his house] to visit him [and attend to his
needs/ask Hashem to have pity on him], and because they swept and sprinkled
the ground before him, he recovered. "My master," he said, "you have
revived me!" Rabbi Akiva went forth and lectured: "Anyone who does not
visit the sick is like a shedder of blood."

*Menachos 68b* tells us that Yehuda ben Nechemia’s face shone when he
dismissed a kushya posed by his rebbi, Rabbi Tarfon, leaving him speechless. R.
Akiva, Rabbi Tarfon’s colleague (with whom he often disagreed) said to him,
"Yehudah! Your face has brightened with joy because you have refuted an
elder?! I wonder whether you will live long."

Said Rabbi Yehudah ben Ila'i, " That happened half a month before Passover.
When I ascended again [to the beis medrash] for Shavuos, I asked for him:
Where is Rabbi Yehuda ben Necḥemia? And they said to me: He passed away.

RAK notes that this second source is particularly impressive as the death
clearly takes place between Passover and Shavuot, and, ironically, the
topic of discussion included the Omer!

Zvi Lampel
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