Inspired by this question (perhaps even a duplicate).

From the Talmud (Shabbat 156b) (Soncino Translation):

From R. Akiba too [we learn that] Israel is free from planetary influence. For R. Akiba had a daughter. Now, astrologers told him, On the day she enters the bridal chamber a snake will bite her and she will die. He was very worried about this. On that day [of her marriage] she took a brooch [and] stuck it into the wall and by chance it penetrated [sank] into the eye of a serpent. The following morning, when she took it out, the snake came trailing after it. ‘What did you do?’ her father asked her. ‘A poor man came to our door in the evening.’ she replied, ‘and everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion which was given to me and gave it to him. ‘You have done a good deed,’ said he to her. Thereupon R. Akiba went out and lectured: ‘But charity delivereth from death’: and not [merely] from an unnatural death, but from death itself.

Was Rabbi Akiva obligated to tell his daughter's potential suitor that an astrologer had foretold that she would die on the day of her marriage?

  • 1
    I don't think this is a duplicate, though it could very well be informed by the other one.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 4, 2011 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


Preface: I don't think my answer actually happened, I just like the way the pieces fit together.

According to the Talmud in Kesubot (63A), Ben Azzai was engaged to the daughter of R' Akiva.

So, assuming the opinion in Masechet Sotah (4B) that Ben Azzai married and later separated from his wife, since "What could he do, his soul desired Torah, let the world continue through someone else (Yevamot 63B), and assuming that the daughter he was engaged to was this same daughter of Rabbi Akiva who was destined to die:

Perhaps Ben Azzai didn't really want to get married, since his heart yearned for Torah. However, when R' Akiva told him that his daughter was going to die on her wedding night, Ben Azzai figured that this would be an easy way to do the mitzvah of marriage without having to stop solely devoting his life to Torah. Once Rabbi Akiva's daughter survived, Ben Azzai separated from her, since he didn't really want to be married in the first place, he just wanted to sit and learn Torah.

  • It is a nice putting together of pieces. But has one really "done the mitzvah of marriage" if one's wife dies immediately? Many see marriage as a heksher mitzvah of pru u'rvu. If so, being quickly a widower is seemingly no better than being single.
    – Ze'ev
    Feb 6, 2020 at 15:21
  • we make a blessing under the chupah, which is not connected to whether the person will have children or not.
    – Menachem
    Feb 13, 2020 at 22:21
  • It is not obvious that bracha is on a mitzvah. While it certainly has the format of other Birkot hamitzvah, some see it as birkat hashevach v’hodaah. A similar debate exists around birkot haTorah.
    – Ze'ev
    Feb 13, 2020 at 22:27

First, let's establish that Rabbi Akiva's chidush at the end is not that Jews aren't affected by astrology. That he knew in the beginning just like the previous case of Shmuel. R' Akiva/Shmuel were assuming that the victim could daven and be saved. The chidush at the end was that tzedaka can also save even from an abnormal death.

So need R' Akiva tell the suitor about a danger that doesn't exist and won't definitely come to fruition? I would compare this (although you can argue) with a family history of disease. The person doesn't have it and won't necessarily get it, so it is unnecessary to tell.

  • 2
    If the danger didn't exist, why was Rabbi Avika worried about it?
    – Menachem
    Dec 4, 2011 at 20:23
  • 1
    A source for your claim that "family history of disease... is unnecessary to tell" would make your answer more valuable.
    – msh210
    Dec 4, 2011 at 20:33
  • I think Rabbi Akiva understood that the fate of a jew might be written in the stars, but it is not signed in stone. He may, through extraordinary action (in this case Tzedakah) save himself.
    – Menachem
    Dec 5, 2011 at 1:36
  • @Menachem, my point doesn't assume it surely won't happen, just that it won't happen for sure. The difference between R' Akiva and Shmuel is that the latter had no connection to his victim. Why assume that Shmuel, who even at the beginning figured that the victim would live through tefila, had more knowledge than R' Akiva? The only chiddush at the end is that tzedaka can also save even in these circumstances.
    – YDK
    Dec 5, 2011 at 3:11
  • @msh210, actually, I don't have a source. I just assumed that if a person is physically healthy, we don't know for sure that he inherited that gene to predispose him, and there are other variables like diet and exercise, one need not spook a potential shidduch. Of course if the other side specifically asks, that is different. Again, I have no source.
    – YDK
    Dec 5, 2011 at 3:17

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