Early sage laid the foundation for Rabbinic Judaism.
But the school of Akiba held that there are no superfluous words in the legal passages, every word being intended to convey some additional rule. Words like "also" are intended to include some addition to the law not stated explicitly in the text and words like "however" are intended to exclude laws that it might otherwise have been imagined arc embraced by the implications of the text. Akiba is quoted as saying that "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is a great principle of the Torah. A saying attributed to him in a more universalistic vein is: "Beloved is man because he has been created in the image of God."
Akiba is also depicted as belonging to the mystical tradition in ancient Israel. Of the four sages who entered the Pardes (Paradise) Akiba alone is said to have emerged unscathed by the tremendous experience. Akiba is held to be of the utmost significance in laying the foundations of Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Temple. He is the exemplar of complete devotion to the study, practice, and teaching of the Torah. He is described in the Talmud as "one of the fathers of the world."
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.