Dear CBI Members and Friends,
In our last adult class on Monday, we learned about the reasons of the destruction of the second temple of Jerusalem. We had a great discussion and we spoke about the historical and moral reasons of that terrible moment in our history.
Today I would like to share with you another story of the Talmud about the same period.
During the era of Roman domination over the Land of Israel, religious expression and study of Torah were forbidden. Offenders were punished with cruel tortures, and even with death.
The Jewish leaders risked their lives to teach Torah and encouraged the Jewish people’s adherence to its laws.
Once, Papus ben Yehudah saw Rabbi Akiva publicly teaching Torah. He asked him, “Do you not fear punishment by law?” Rabbi Akiva answered with a parable:
A fox, strolling along the riverbank, notices fish swimming around. He asks, “Why are you running?”
“We are afraid of the net that people set up to catch us,” they reply.
The fox persuasively reasons, “Perhaps it would be wise to ascend to the shore and live with me, as my parents lived with your parents.”
The fish wisely reply, “You speak foolishly; if we are afraid in our natural habitat, our fear will be even greater on land, where death will be certain.”
Rabbi Akiva concluded: “The Jew, as the fish in the water, must be immersed in his soul’s nourishment – the Torah and its commandments. If now, as we sit and engage in Torah, about which it is written ‘For it is your life and the length of your days,’ we are in such danger, without it, we will surely perish.”
When Papus was also arrested, and placed in the same prison as Rabbi Akiva, he told Rabbi Akiva: “Fortunate are you, Rabbi Akiva, that you were arrested because words of Torah; woe to Papus who was arrested because idle things.”
(Talmud, Berachot 61b)
“There are many roads, all leading to the same destination.”
I wish you Shabbat Shalom Umevorach!
Rabbi Gad Romang