The week of Tisha B’Av is always filled with sorrow, reflection and hope. Given all that’s been happening, this year it was uniquely so.
Within Chabad, much of the discourse was about “What would Rabbi Akiva say?”.
The first century Mishnaic scholar, Rabbi Akiva had the unique ability to see how tomorrow’s outcome informs today’s input. As such he was able to differentiate between a setback and step-back ahead of a future leap.
He embraced a Halachik outlook which favored short term losses for larger long term gains.
A “picture of the future” guided him from illiteracy to heading a Torah academy of 24,000: It was when he saw a rock pierced by a steady drip of water, he visualized how through consistent application Torah will enter his heart.
With a clear view of the end, he was able to be “comforter in chief”. When others would cry, Rabbi Akivah was able to laugh.
Once, when he and his colleagues were ascending to Jerusalem, they saw a fox emerging from the site of the Holy of Holies. While his colleagues began weeping, Rabbi Akiva laughed.
The colleagues wept over the desecration of all that is holy. Rabbi Akivah laughed, for by witnessing the fulfillment of the prophetic words “Zion will be plowed like a field”, he felt ensured that the promise “elderly men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem” would follow.
Upon sharing his perspective his colleagues replied: “Akiva you have comforted us, Akiva you have comforted us“.
There is a well known saying “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. Rabbi Akiva always saw the end and thus he was able to ensure us, everything will be okay.
How would Rabbi Akiva see current events in the context of the future? I know he would be laughing, perceiving the positive and I am so trying to hear him.
One thing we know for sure. Rabbi Akiva would remind us, as he always did “To love your fellow as yourself” is is a fundamental principle of the Torah.