© 2002 Torah
of the Torah
The Talmud in
Tractate Menachot (29b) quotes Reb. Yehuda, who said in the
name of Rab:
When Moshe ascended
to heaven to receive the Torah he found Hashem engaged
in affixing tagin (three small upward strokes in the form
of a crown) to the letters.
Moshe then asked,
"Master of the
Universe, Who is forcing Your hand [that You have to add crowns
to the letters ]?"
"There will be
a man, after many generations, whose name is Akiva ben Yosef and
he will expound a multitude of laws upon each stroke of these coronets."
Moshe asked to be
permitted to see that man, and Hashem instructed him to turn
Moshe sat down behind
eight rows [of Rabbi Akiva's disciples in the Beth Hamidrash
- some say it was 10 rows - and listened to their discussions].
Moshe found that he could not follow their arguments. He felt as
if his strength had been sapped, but when they came to a certain
topic, the students asked Rabbi Akiva (in reference to a law that
was being discussed):
"From where do
we know this?"
Rabbi Akiva responded,
M'Sinai" - this is an oral law handed down to Moshe at
At that moment Moshe
was comforted (since his teaching was quoted, although he had not
yet received the Torah - see Rashi).
Thereupon Moshe said
"You have such
a man and yet You give the Torah [to Israel] by me?"
"Hush, this is
My decree (literally, "So it has come to My mind")."
For the rest of this
Midrash, see Tractate Menachot (29b).
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