Arie E. Pelta
Arie E. Pelta

Lag BaOmer and Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students (part 2 of 4)

Reincarnation גילגולים of The 24,000

The Jewish nation wandered the desert for forty years after leaving Egypt. Balak and Bilam tried to find a way to destroy the Jewish nation, to prevent their Aliyah to Israel.  Bilam found a way for the Jews to serve idols and act promiscuously with the women of Midyan.  Specifically, Zimri the Prince of the Tribe of Shimon sinned with Kozbi, the Princess of Midyan.  In addition to licentiousness,  Zimri served the idol of Peor with Kozbi.  As a consequence, a plague killed 24,000 people from of the Tribe of Shimon. This terrible plague only stopped when Pinchas the Kohen, miraculously killed both Zimri and Kozbi during the act of sinning.

Princess Kozbi  was a reincarnation of Dina and the soul of Shechem was  reincarnated into Prince Zimri.  Zimri was a direct descendent of Shimon, who wiped out the city of Shechem.

Prior to their deaths, the men of Shechem performed a mass circumcision ברית מילה ; therefore, their souls were worthy of being reincarnated into the Tribe of Shimon.  At this moment in history, Zimri had the potential to rectify the 24,000 re-incarnated souls of his tribe; he failed.

24,000 Students of Rabbi Akiva Died

The Yalkut Reuveni states, that Rabbi Akiva was a Reincarnation of Zimri whose soul originated with Shimon who married Dina. The soul of Rabbi Akiva was initially hidden in the spark of Paroh of Egypt and then after the death of Zimri, it was hidden among the children of Sisra, who was killed by Yael the Keyni. Yael was able to kill Sisra by weakening him with multiple sexual acts, performed for a holy purpose of saving Jewish lives.

Rabbi Akiva, a descendent of Sisra,  was a great Torah Scholar and leader. Thus, he successfully performed the Tikun  תיקון rectification for the soul of Zimri.

Yakov, Rabbi Akiva, and Rav Shimon bar Yochai all performed acts of self sacrifice to separate the Jews from evil.  Yakov protected the Jews from Lavan and Esav. According Rav Vital in his sefer  Sha’ar HaGigulim, the 600,000 souls of the Jewish nation were hidden in the sheep of Lavan.  Therefore, Yakov was required to redeem and acquire all of them.

Similarly, Rabbi Akiva taught Torah, upon the penalty of death from the local rulers, in order to prevent assimilation into Roman culture. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, verbally spoke up against the Roman’s in order to separate from them. Eventually, he revealed to us the secrets of the Zohar.

Rabbi Akiva was a gilgul Zimri the son of Shimon, who killed 24,000 people in Shechem.  This is specifically why 24,000 died during the plague caused by the lewd behavior of  Zimri and his tribesmen.  These souls required a Tikun and were thus reincarnated into the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva.

Another similarity is, just as Leah “went out” to greet Yakov and subsequently Yissachar was born. Her daughter Dina “went out” and was kidnapped by Shechem. So too, Yael (decendant of Yisro) “went out” to greet Sisra and Rabbi Akiva was eventually born from that union.

בראשית ל:טז

וַיָּבֹ֨א יַֽעֲקֹ֥ב מִן הַשָּׂדֶה֘ בָּעֶ֒רֶב֒ וַתֵּצֵ֨א לֵאָ֜ה לִקְרָאת֗וֹ וַתֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֵלַ֣י תָּב֔וֹא כִּ֚י שָׂכֹ֣ר שְׂכַרְתִּ֔יךָ בְּדֽוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנִ֑י וַיִּשְׁכַּ֥ב עִמָּ֖הּ בַּלַּ֥יְלָה הֽוּא:

When Yakov came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out toward him, and she said, “You shall come to me, because I have hired you with my son’s dudaim,” and he slept with her on that night (Bereishis 30:17).

בראשית לד:א

וַתֵּצֵ֤א דִינָה֙ בַּת לֵאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָֽלְדָ֖ה לְיַֽעֲקֹ֑ב לִרְא֖וֹת בִּבְנ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ:

Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Yakov, went out to look about among the daughters of the land.

שופטים ד:יח

וַתֵּצֵ֣א יָעֵל֘ לִקְרַ֣את סִֽיסְרָא֒ וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֗יו סוּרָ֧ה אֲדֹנִ֛י סוּרָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י אַל תִּירָ֑א וַיָּ֚סַר אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ הָאֹ֔הֱלָה וַתְּכַסֵּ֖הוּ בַּשְּׂמִיכָֽה:

And Yael went out to meet Sisra and said to him, “Turn in, my master, turn in to me; fear not.” And he turned in to her into the tent, and she covered him with a garment (Shoftim 4:18).

Rabbi Akiva the gilgul of Zimri accomplished a Tikun of the 24,000 souls who originated in Shechem.  However, Kozbi was reincarnated into Izevel the evil wife of King Achav. In an act of revenge, Izevel  pursued Eliyahu, in order to kill him, since he was the gilgul of Pinchas who killed Kozbi.

According the Emek HaMelech,  Kozbi’s soul reincarnated into the wife of the Roman Governor Turnus Rufus (who fought Bar Kochba).  This Roman wife eventually converted to Judaism and married Rabbi Akiva, after Rachel his first wife died.  The wife of Turnus Rufus wanted to sin with Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef, he withstood the test.  This was the successful Tikun of Shechem/Dinah and Zimri/Kozbi.

The Torah mentions a person named Shaul Ben HaCanaanis.  This was another name for Zimri the son of the Canaanite Shechem (Rav Tzadok HaKohen, Sefer Machshavos Charutz).  This child was born with the reincarnated soul of Shechem.

בראשית מו: י

וּבְנֵ֣י שִׁמְע֗וֹן יְמוּאֵ֧ל וְיָמִ֛ין וְאֹ֖הַד וְיָכִ֣ין וְצֹ֑חַר וְשָׁא֖וּל בֶּן הַכְּנַֽעֲנִֽית:

And the sons of Shimon were Yemuel, Yamin, Ohad, Yachin, and Tzochar, and Shaul the son of the Canaanis (Bereishis 46:10).

Zimri was the child of Dinah after she married Shimon. It seems that Osnat was the actual child that she conceived from Shechem. However, even thought Shimon married her, the stigma of the rape, made her son be considered from Shechem.

Hashem set up Dina and Shechem as well as the 24,000 men of Shechem, a second time.  He placed them in a scenario enticing them to perform forbidden relations.  The purpose of this was to rectify their previous mistakes. Shevet Shimon failed this challenge and the Tikun did not occur in the desert.  Therefore, the 24,000 souls who died from the tribe of Shimon were reincarnated into the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who did not give respect to one another.

Rabbi Akiva separated from wife Rachel for Twenty-Four years (12+12 = 24 years) and amassed 24,000 students. He added 1,000 students to his yeshiva every year that he was away from his wife.  This was also a Tikun and a rectification כפרה.  The rectification was for the sins of Shechem, the hatred shown to Yosef  in Shechem and for the sin of the Tribe of Shimon in the midbar.  His students did not to live up to their potential; therefore, they needed to die in order to complete Rabbi Akiva’s Tikun.

According to the Megillah Amukos, Shimon harmed Yosef who represented the Sefira of Yesod, by throwing him into a pit.  Consequently, Zimri son of Shimon and Shechem sinned sexually with Kozbi the Midianite.  Zimri violated  his Bris Milah, which is also represented in the Sefira of Yesod. The people of Shechem also misused the power of the Bris Milah.  The Tikun of these sins were eventually accomplished and atoned for with the deaths of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef.  Rabbi Akiva’s main message to his students was “unity”  אחדות .   Through the act of each Jew loving his neighbor as his self ואהבת לרעך כמוך one can accomplish “unity”.  The opposite of this unity is evil speech or Loshon Hara.   Proper speech brings unity and the redemption of Moshiach.  Therefore, there are 36 bells on the clothing of the Kohen Gadol known as the מעיל .  This was to be a rectification כפרה  for Loshon Hara.

Rabbi Akiva was interested in bringing into the world the actual Moshiach. He proclaimed publicly that Bar Kochba was the Moshiach.  To demonstrate this belief, Rav Akiva became his arms bearer.  His message to the Jewish nation was that we can actually bring Moshiach when we have peace and unity among the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael.

According to the Dover Tzedek, most of the Eruv Rav (Egyptian converts who left Egypt with the Jews) eventually lived with the tribe of Shimon.   Therefore, these insincere Egyptian converts were part of the 24,000 who died at Shittim with the Tribe of Shimon.

When Shechem and Chamor told Yakov that they would all convert to Judaism, they were lying. They did perform the ritual of Bris Milah, but they did not convert with the intention of believing in the One and True G-d לשם שמים. Just as Yakov made an error, so too Moshe mistakenly accepted the Erev Rav Egyptian converts into the Jewish Nation.  Moshe was from the tribe of Levi, who was a partner with Shimon in the massacre of the city of Shechem.

Yakov believed that Shimon and Levi unjustifiably murdered the city of Shechem; despite the kidnapping and rape of his own daughter Dina. It was in the vicinity of Shechem that Yosef went to meet his brothers, when they almost killed him.  In an act of hatred they threw him into a pit and eventually sold Yosef into slavery.  This is the first story in Tanach of hatred of one Jew for the next שינאת חינם.  The way to rectify this sin is by following Rav Akiva’s dictum to love each and every Jew.

Origins of Dina and Yosef

Reuven brought Dudaim pro-fertility plants to his mother Leah.  Subsequently, Rachel traded her conjugal relations with Yakov with Leah for these plants. After this story, Rachel became pregnant with a girl and Leah was pregnant with a boy.  Leah prayed for her sister to have a son.  Miraculously, the two fetuses actually switched mothers in utero.  In this manner, Yosef was born from Rachel and Dina from Leah.

Dina was impregnated by Shechem and gave birth to a girl named Osnat.  In Egypt, Osnat became the adopted daughter of Potifar and she eventually married Yosef who was a slave in her home.

בראשית לד:א

וַתֵּצֵ֤א דִינָה֙ בַּת לֵאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָֽלְדָ֖ה לְיַֽעֲקֹ֑ב לִרְא֖וֹת בִּבְנ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ:

Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Yakov, went out to look about among the daughters of the land (Bereishis 34:1).

Dina daughter of Leah was originally they boy Yosef and she was change to a girl. However, she retained that boy nature “to go out” and wander the city.  Whereas, girls tended to stay close to home.

Origins of Yakov – Akiva

The spiritual source of Rabbi Akiva was located in the heel of Esav.  For this reason, Yakov subconsciously grabbed Esav’s heel at birth and extracted Rabbi Akiva from the evil Esav.  According the Ari z”l, by grabbing onto Esav’s heel, Yakov was also reincarnated into Rabbi Akiva.  We learn this from the phrase, “the Mighty of Yakov” אביר יעקב  , which spells the name Rabi Akiva.  This pasuk was stated by Yakov when he was blessing Yosef  at his death-bed.  Rabbi Akiva’s father name was also Yosef.

בראשית נט:כד

וַתֵּ֤שֶׁב בְּאֵיתָן֙ קַשְׁתּ֔וֹ וַיָּפֹ֖זּוּ זְרֹעֵ֣י יָדָ֑יו מִידֵי֙ אֲבִ֣יר יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב מִשָּׁ֥ם רֹעֶ֖ה אֶ֥בֶן יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:

אביר יעקב  = רבי עקיבא

But his bow was strongly established, and his arms were gilded from the hands of the Mighty One Yakov; from there he sustained the rock of Israel (Bereishis 49:24)

Rabbi Akiva followed the example of Yakov.  Just as Yakov separated from Lavan,  Rabbi Akiva separated himself from the Romans.

The Ari z”l in Sha’ar HaKavanos (Pesach , Drush12) hints that Yakov made his peace treaty with Lavan specifically on Lag BaOmer!

בראשית לא: נב

עֵ֚ד הַגַּ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה וְעֵדָ֖ה הַמַּצֵּבָ֑ה אִם אָ֗נִי לֹא אֶֽעֱבֹ֤ר אֵלֶ֨יךָ֙ אֶת־הַגַּ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה וְאִם אַ֠תָּ֠ה לֹא תַֽעֲבֹ֨ר אֵלַ֜י אֶת הַגַּ֥ל הַזֶּ֛ה וְאֶת הַמַּצֵּבָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לְרָעָֽה:

ה-גל  = ל”ג = 36th day of the Omer

This pile is a witness, and this monument is a witness, that I will not pass this pile [to go] to you and that you shall not pass this pile and this monument to [come to] me to [do] harm (Bereishis 31:52(

According the Seder Hadoros, Rav Akiva is a gilgul of Yakov, since the name Yakov       יעקב  has the letters of his name rearranged to spell Akiva phonetically  עקיב (missing the letter “(“א.

Another connection between Yakov and Akiva is found in the pasuk when Yakov went to Beis El. The first letters of the phrase, ” Yakov, arise and go up to Beis El”, spells the name Akiva.

בראשית לה:א

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹקים֙ אֶל יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב ק֛וּם עֲלֵ֥ה בֵֽית אֵ֖ל וְשֶׁב שָׁ֑ם וַֽעֲשֵׂה שָׁ֣ם מִזְבֵּ֔חַ לָאֵל֙ הַנִּרְאֶ֣ה אֵלֶ֔יךָ בְּבָ֨רְחֲךָ֔ מִפְּנֵ֖י עֵשָׂ֥ו אָחִֽיךָ:

יעקב קום עלה בית אל – עקיבא

And G-d said to Yakov, “Arise and go up to Beis El and live there, and make there an altar to the G-d Who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esav.” (Bereishis 35:1).

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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