Why Study?
 
The great Sage Rabbi Akiva, transformed himself from a simple, ignorant shepherd into one of the most outstanding and influential Sages of all time.
 
Rachel, the daughter of a wealthy Jerusalemite, offered to marry the uneducated Akiva if he would devote his life to the study of Torah. At the age of forty, Akiva felt that such an endeavor was hopeless.
 
One day, though, he observed water dripping onto a stone and noticed that the steady trickling had made an impression in the stone. "If drops of water can make an imprint on a stone," he reasoned, "then even I can learn Torah."
When the Romans forbade Torah study, Rabbi Akiva continued to study at the risk of his life. When a soldier once asked him why he behaved thus, Rabbi Akiva answered with a parable:

A hungry fox, standing on the riverbank, called out to a fish, "Fish, why do you subject yourself to such a dangerous existence? Don't you know that a little further down there are fishermen just waiting to catch you? Join me on the river-bank and you will be safe."

Replied the fish, "What you say about the fisherman might be true. But if I am not immersed in the water, then surely I will die. My only chance to live is if I am in the water despite its peril." Rabbi Akiva closed his discussion with the Roman soldier by saying, "Just as a fish cannot live without water, a Jew cannot live without Torah."

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