It strikes me as odd that Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 talmidim died apparently because of interpersonal issues yet he is attributed as having said that veahavta lireacha kamocha is a "klal gadol batorah". I've not found anyone that discusses this and was wondering if anyone else has or can shed any more light on it?
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They loved each other; Alot. They loved each other so much that they had to ensure that the other served Hashem in the most optimal manner (the one they considered to be the most optimal manner). This (fairly obviously) resulted in fights.
(PS. Very apropos to a lot of people!)
I asked Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum, shlita, how every one of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students could not have treated each other with proper respect when Rabbi Akiva had taught that the most important pasuk in the Torah was "V'Ahavta l'Reacha Kamocha . . ." ("you shall love your fellow as yourself")? He answered with another question: "The better question is when did he teach that -- before or after the deaths of his students?" He said that the Gemara does not give us that context. It is possible, maybe probable, that he taught it after their deaths.
Dorash Dovid on sefirah page 185(Hebrew edition) explains that the time between pesach and shavuos is like chol hamoed it is a holy time.He then explains that the greater one is the greater their yetzer harah becomes(sukkah 52a).On shvuos they bring chametz for the shtei halechem instead of the usual matzah,to remind us of the yetzer harsh and to overcome it.on Mayan Torah one works to be elevated and therefore through attaining kedusha the yetzer harah gets stronger and one needs to be reminded of this.
He ends by saying that when a person tries to work on something particular , it is that thing the yetzer harah tries to get them.It is for this reason since the talmidim knew how important the mitzvah of vahvtah is the more they yetzer harah tried to get them to slip.It is also for this reason why it happened during the time of sefirah since it is a holy time the yetzer harah is stronger than usual.
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