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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Nedarim 50



(a) Despite the fact that Rebbi Akiva married the daughter of Kalba Savu'a, one of the wealthiest men in Yerushalayim, the young couple did not even have beds to sleep on, only straw (even though they married in the winter) - because Kalba Savu'a, angry with his daughter Rachel for marrying an Am ha'Aretz (which Akiva ben Yosef was at the time), he made a Neder disowning her from all his property.

(b) Rebbi Akiva promised his wife that, should he ever become rich - he would have made for her a 'Yerushalayim shel Zahav' (a golden tiara with a picture of Yerushalayim carved on it).

(c) He did indeed become rich, as we shall soon see - and he kept his word.

(d) Rebbi Akiva consoled his wife in those early days - by pointing out to her (when Eliyahu came in disguise asking for straw for his wife who had just given birth, to lie on) that there was someone even poorer than them, since he did not even possess straw.

(a) When his wife sent him to Yeshivah, he went to learn for twelve years - with Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua.

(b) When he returned at the end of the twelve-years, he went straight back for another twelve years - when he overheard his wife tell a certain Rasha that, if she had her way, she would send him away for another twelve years.

(c) That Rasha had said to her - that, not only was her father right for disowning her, but in addition, her husband had the gall to leave her 'an Agunah' for so many years!

(d) On his return journey at the end of the twenty-four years - he was accompanied by twenty-four thousand disciples.

(a) Everyone came out to greet the then famous Gaon upon his return journey. That Rasha tried to stop Rebbi Akiva's wife from joining them - because she did not have decent clothes to wear.

(b) When Rachel quoted him the Pasuk "Yodei'a Tzadik Nefesh Behemto" - she meant that she would go anyway in the clothes that she had, and her husband would understand how much she had suffered on his behalf.

(c) When Rebbi Akiva's disciples tried to deter the bedraggled woman from approaching him - he stopped them and ordered them to 'Leave her, because My Torah and your Torah are her Torah'!

(a) Kalba Savu'a left them a lot of money, in spite of his Neder - because he only disowned her on account of Rebbi Akiva's ignorance, but now that he had turned to be such a Talmid-Chacham, he was able to have his Neder annulled.

(b) This was not a question of 'Nolad' (unforeseen circumstances, which, as we have already learned, cannot serve as a Pesach to nullify a Neder) - because all Kalba Savu'a wanted was that his son-in-law should learn a little (at a time), a Perek or a Halachah, a common enough occurrence.

(a) There were five other sources that contributed to Rebbi Akiva's ultimate wealth. One of them, was a 'ram' or 'sheep' (part of a ship, in which the sailors would place their money, and) which Rebbi Akiva once found by the sea-shore. The third source also came from the sea-shore (and so did one of the subsequent sources - though indirectly) - when Rebbi Akiva gave some sailors four Zuzim to bring him something, and they brought him a money-chest, which was found to be full of Dinrim (all the proceeds from all the merchandise that they had sold).

(b) The sunken ship from which the chest came - was an Arab one.

(a) The fourth source of his wealth was a Roman matron, who once lent him money. As guarantors - she appointed Hashem and the sea.

(b) The appointed time of payment arrived, and Rebbi Akiva was sick and unable to pay the debt - so the matron went to the sea-shore and asked Hashem, as guarantor, to pay. At around that time, the emperor's daughter went out of her mind. She took a box full of jewels and gold coins and cast it into the sea, which in turn, cast it up on to the sea-shore at the feet of the waiting matron.

(c) Upon Rebbi Akiva's recovery, he took a box-full of money to the matron who declined to accept it, because the debt had already been paid. She even presented him with the balance (the excess money that the box had contained, over and above the amount of the debt) - and it was that money that enriched him further.

(a) The fifth source was the wife of Turnusrufus - who, on the basis that the G-d of the Jews hates adultery, volunteered to avenge her husband's pride (shattered by the regular disputations with Rebbi Akiva, which took place in the presence of the emperor, and which Turnusrufus always lost), by seducing Rebbi Akiva.

(b) When Rebbi Akiva saw her, he ...

1. ... spat (to counter her intentions) - by recalling how she, like everybody else, is formed from a putrid drop.
2. ... cried - when he thought how such beauty would ultimately end up in the grave.
3. ... laughed - because he knew that she would convert and that he would marry her.
(c) She reacted to her meeting with Rebbi Akiva - by asking him whether it is possible to repent for one's misdeeds. When he replied in the affirmative, she did indeed convert, and Rebbi Akiva subsequently married her. A wealthy woman, she brought a lot of money into the marriage.

(d) The sixth source of Rebbi Akiva's wealth was 'Keti'a bar Shalom' - a righteous Roman dignitary, who was being taken out to be killed by the Romans for outwitting the emperor in his defense the Jews. As he was being led to his execution, he declared that all his wealth should go to Rebbi Akiva and the Rabbanan. Rebbi Akiva therefore, inherited half of that wealth.




(a) When Rav Gamda also gave some sailors four Dinrim to bring him something - they brought him a monkey.

(b) That monkey caused him to become rich - when it immediately ran away and hid in a hole in the ground. The sailors gave chase. When they found him, they discovered that he was crouching on a pearl, which they presented to Rav Gamda together with the monkey.

(c) The sailors were under no obligation to give him the money - but they felt that it was morally the right thing to do.

(a) When the emperor's daughter expressed amazement at the fact that so much Torah could be contained in so ugly a vessel - Rebbi Yehoshua responded by advising her to transfer all her father's wine (to which Torah is compared) from earthenware barrels into golden ones.

(b) When the wine subsequently turned sour - he explained to her that Torah, like wine, keeps better in an ugly vessel (because good looks make a person proud, and Torah and pride do not make a good partnership).

(c) He reconciled this with the fact that there are Talmidei-Chachamim who are good-looking - by pointing out that, if they were ugly, they would be even wiser.

(d) That woman who came before Rav Yehudah burst and died - due the Shamta that he placed on her, which in turn, he did because she described his Rebbe, Shmuel, as bring short, fat, dark-skinned and as having long teeth.

(a) The Tana of our Mishnah states that, someone who made a Neder not to eat a Tavshil, is permitted to eat a Beitzah Turmitah - an egg which is boiled a thousand times in hot water and soaked a thousand times in cold water, until it shrunk and could easily be swallowed whole.

(b) A slave who is able to prepare one - is worth a thousand Zuz.

(c) The Beitzah Turmitah has the power of removing internal sores. It also has the effect, when it emerges from the body, of supplying the doctor with the information on how to cure the patient's internal illnesses.

(d) Shmuel did not know how to use the Beitzah Turmitah. So instead, he used to apply a Kulcha (see Rashi) - which acted something like a Beitzah Turmitah, but weakened him to such an extent that his family 'tore out their hair' from worry.

(a) K'lufsin and B'nos Sheva have in common - that they are both a species of fig.

(b) The Mishnah say in Ma'asros states that an employee who is working among K'lufsin trees - is not permitted to eat from B'nos Shu'ach or vice-versa (because the Torah only permits a worker to eat from the species with which he is working).

(a) One man gave his slave to another man to prepare a thousand kinds of Lapadi - a dish prepared from K'lufsin figs.

(b) In the end - he was only able to prepare eight hundred different kinds.

(c) When they came before Rebbi for a Din Torah - based on the Pasuk "Nashinu Tovah", he commented 'If our fathers forgot about these pleasures of life (two hundred additional kinds of Lapadi!), we never knew about them in the first place'!

(a) Rebbi made a huge wedding for his son Rebbi Shimon. He did not invite bar Kapara to the wedding - because he knew that bar Kapara, a Badchan (someone who makes jokes and anecdotes ... to make people happy), would try to make him laugh, something that he took great care not to do on principle.

(b) Rebbi did not want to laugh - because, through his constant suffering, he served as a Kaparah for the entire world (see Agados Maharsha), and he knew that the day that he laughed, suffering would descend on the world.

(c) When bar Kapara declared 'If that is what happens to those who transgress Hashem's will, then imagine what is in store for those who perform it' - he was referring to Rebbi, calling him 'someone who does not perform Hashem's will', because he did not invite him to the wedding (see Rashi and Agados Maharsha). If in this world they enjoy such immense wealth, he was saying, imagine what is in store for those who perform Hashem's will in the World to Come!

(d) When Rebbi subsequently sent him a belated invitation, he declared 'If that is what happens to those who perform Hashem's will in this world, then imagine what is in store for them in the World to Come'!

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