Akiva’s animosity was uncontrollable
“If I could just lay my hands on one of those Torah scholars, “he thought,” I would give him a beating he wouldn’t forget. I would bite him like a donkey, whose bite breaks bones.”
“Just do your work,” he told himself, “it’s almost dark, and you have to get moving to bring the flocks in for the night.” He tried to shake off his upset, but how could he? Those scholars wouldn’t even eat with a commoner like Akiva. Was it his fault that he had been born into poverty and at almost 40 year old still didn’t know how to read?
He spotted a stream where his sheep could drink and sat down by its edge. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a tiny trickle of water. He stared for a while more, and noticed that exactly where the dripping water fell onto the boulder, an indent had been carved and smoothed out. Then, like a bolt of lightning, Akiva sat erect. These practically weightless water droplets are able to carve out an immovable boulder! Maybe it is not too late for me to learn. So what if I have to start with learning the aleph-bet? I’ll learn letter by letter, and drop by drop, my heart of stone can be softened. I too can be great.”
These practically weightless water droplets are able to carve out an immovable boulder!
So Akiva learned to read at 40 years old, and ultimately became one of the greatest Jewish sages of all time.
Pesach brought along with it a vision of freedom, of spiritual greatness. Hashem thundered the world of Egypt, split for us the sea, and brought us into the desert. We were like a bride recklessly running after her loved one without figuring out the details of how they were going to make it. Then the doubt set in.
Reb Natan quotes the holy Zohar which says that during this time, after Pesach, Hashem checks us to see if we will abandon our yearning to align ourselves with our Creator when we feel that there has been no progress.(1)
We were like a bride recklessly running after her loved one without figuring out the details of how they were going to make it
That is when we begin to count the Sephira. “The Yetzer Harah confuses a person a lot during this time of Sephirat Haomer in all kinds of tailor-made confusion, weakening a person’s resolve, as if there is no possibility of a re-connection with the Torah in an authentic way, and as if our Tefillot are not doing anything, as if we are stuck in the same place we have always been, and haven’t grown an iota.”(2)
I feel suddenly abandoned, where is my inspiration? Where is that light that clarified like the sun at noon my mission in this world? Maybe I’m not really growing. Where is my beloved Creator now? Maybe that flash of light that showed me greatness was an illusion?
Maybe that flash of light that showed me greatness was an illusion?
“This is the fixing of Sefirat Haomer!” Reb Natan continues. “To know that every single nekudah (point) of yearning and desire, prayer and supplication have immense impact above.” Every thought of wanting to be close to Hashem, every whispered prayer is a drop of water on what seems like the immovable boulder of cultivating an intimate, enlivened, authentic relationship with the Creator of the world. Each drop seems like it does not accomplish anything! Each prayer feels like if falls on deaf ears.
But when a Jew counts each day of Sephira, 20, 21, 22… he is victorious over the Yetzer Harah who is bullying him to give up. The moment of counting is a time of an incredible awakening because I finally understand that my yearning is my most powerful tool. If I am still desiring, and still counting then I am already there.
May we all be blessed to look for opportunities to strengthen each other with knowing the power of every drop, every good thought, and in so doing, may we merit to stand together in the desert at Mount Sinai and experience a totally fresh revelation of the power of the Torah, and a renewed relationship with Hashem.
1. Hilchot Sephirat HaOmer 1
2. Hilchot Sephirat HaOmer 1
Please note: We spent much time and effort to bring the inspirational teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov as accurately as possible in this article. If you find any mistakes in translation or have trouble understanding the article, please let us know! Feel free to comment below.We bless the viewers to be connected to Rebbe Nachman and to his teachings, and to always be happy and inspired…
Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’Uman 🙂