Akiva ben Joseph

Contributed by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

A first-second century Sage, biblical exegete and mystic, he is the most celebrated figure in the Talmud. He was the only one of the Four Sages who entered "pardes" and returned unscathed. His prayers were credited with ending a drought. He encountered a ghost and subsequently exorcised it by teaching the dead man's son the daily liturgy; this is credited by some with establishing the tradition of reciting Kaddish for the dead.

As one of the ten martyrs, his willingness to die for the sake of God's honor prevented God from undoing Creation.

Article copyright © 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.