ALL GOD DOES IS FOR THE GOOD. GAMZU L'TOVAH
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
BLUFFTON / HILTON HEAD SUN 3/1/17
Shalom: This year we are learning a bit about Judaism's famous Talmudic rabbis and the universal lessons that they taught.Another of Judaism's most famous sages, living circa 130 CE, is Rabbi Akiva. He recognized General Bar Kokhba as the Messiah, and was executed by the Romans when Bar Kokhba's revolt, 3 years after recapturing Jerusalem, circa 136 CE, failed.
Akiva was a shepherd and his employer's daughter fell in love with him. She offered marriage if Akiva would begin studying Torah. He was 40 years old and illiterate. Her father disowned her, and she and Akiva lived in poverty. Akiva spent 24 years away from his wife, in study, and became a great rabbi, returning with 24,000 disciples. His father-in-law, now impressed gave Akiva and his wife, half of his possessions.
Akiva's favorite maxim was "Whatever God does, He does for the best", in Hebrew: "Gamzu L'Tovah.'' Once, being unable to find any sleeping accommodation in a certain city, he was compelled to pass the night outside its walls. Without a murmur he resigned himself to this hardship; and even when a lion devoured his donkey, and a cat killed the rooster whose crowing was to herald the dawn to him, and the wind extinguished his candle, the only remark he made was, ''Gamzu L'Tovah.'' When morning dawned he learned how true his words were. A band of robbers had fallen upon the city and carried its inhabitants into captivity, but he had escaped because his abiding place had not been noticed in the darkness, and neither beast nor fowl had betrayed him (Talmud Berachot 60b).
Talmud Berachot 61b tells of Akiva's torture and death by the Romans. His skin was torn off a piece at a time, and his students asked him how he could pray to God in pain. Akiva answers: "All my life I was worried about the verse, 'loving God with all your soul.' Now that I am finally able to fulfill it, shouldn't I?" He then said the Shema Prayer, ending with "The Lord is One." He extended the final word Echad ("One") until he died with ''Echad'' on his lips. A heavenly voice announced: "Blessed are you, Rabbi Akiva, that your life expired with "Echad". This death bed Jewish tradition exists still today.
Rabbi Arthur Segal is an international lecturer, author, and teacher. Visit him at www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.org . Email at RabbiASegal@aol.com , and www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
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