Rabbi Akiva’s Students: Saints or Sinners?

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Delivered at the OU Israel Center, April 17th, 2018

This shiur is sponsored by Helen Gross in loving memory of her Husband Alex Gross on his Yahrzeit

The Gemara says Rebbi Akiva’s students died because “לא נהגו כבוד זה בזה”, they didn’t treat each other with respect:

Why does the Gemara refer to them as 12,000 pairs, not 24,000 students? Was there not a single righteous one? Everyone of them did the same sin? Why were they all punished during the same period of time? How could the students of R’ Akiva, who’s mantra was “ואהבת לרעך כמוך – זה כלל גדול בתורה” reject his main teaching? Was their sin a capital offense? If they were sinners, why is there a national period of mourning?

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