It is hard to imagine two people who had a greater influence on the development of Judaism during the dark period of Roman persecution than Rabbi Akiva and one of his most prominent pupils, Rav Shimon bar Yochai. It is even harder to imagine two people more dedicated to learning Torah. Akiva, an ignoramus until the age of forty, became “Rabbi Akiva” by dedicating 24 years—with the encouragement of his wife—to learning and teaching the future leaders of the Jewish people. No interruptions were tolerated, not even to visit his devoted wife.
One of the hallmarks of the Western world is its inclusiveness. Great attempts are made to make all feel included, no matter their ability or their lifestyle. This is a most beautiful sentiment. Society has become more sensitive to the needs of people who not so long ago were shunned.
"Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit seeing its joy" (Ta'anit 30b). Our Sages seem to be offering words of comfort to those pious Jews over the millennium, who faithfully internalized the suffering of the Jewish people. Though they would not merit seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem in their own lifetime—that is a blessing reserved for our generation—they would merit seeing the joy of Jerusalem after they were resurrected from the dead.
Although it is mashechet Gittin (55b-57b) that records the stories relating to the destruction of the Temple, the famous Talmudic passage stating that the first Temple was destroyed because of the three cardinal sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder, and the second because of sinnat chinam is actually found in mashechet Yoma (9b).
G-d's greatest gift to man is that He created us in His image. As heretical as it sounds, man and G-d are, in effect, opposite sides of the same coin. Flowing from this is the notion that all aspects of our relationship to G-d must be reflected in our actions towards man, and our actions towards our fellow man must be reflected in our relationship to G-d. This can best be seen in the aseret hadibrot, which can be read both vertically and horizontally.
Today's daf is sponsored by Arthur Little in observance of the Yahrzeit of his father, Areyeh Ben Avraham Yitzhak z"l, Leonard Little. May we share in smachot.
“And Moshe was one hundred and twenty years when he died” (Devarim 34:7). It is a beautiful, if somewhat unrealistic, custom to offer blessings to those celebrating a birthday that they should live to be 120. While this quantity of life is (usually) unrealistic, the blessing to live to 120 relates not only to quantity, but to the quality of life; “his eyesight did not diminish and his strength did not wane” (ibid).