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The Gemara in Kesubos 62b - 63a, "Rebbe Akiva was a shepherd for Ben Kalba Savua. His daughter saw that he was modest and of fine character. She asked him, ‘If I marry you, will you go to the Beis Medrash to study Torah?’ He said to her, ‘Yes!’ He then married her in secret and she sent him away to the beis medrash...”

Avot D'Rav Nattan ch 6, mishnah 2. (summarized by DanF) says:

"... Once he passed by a well and noticed a carved stone. He asked who carved this stone, and they told him that it was the water that constantly dripped on it. From this, he said that if water was able to carve a hole in the hard rock, surely the words of Torah could carve his heart."

When did he encounter this stone? Was it after she sent him off to the beis medrash?

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    +1. FWIW, in Akiva (p. 21), R' Meir Lehmann synthesizes the two accounts by presenting them as occurring during the same encounter. See also this answer which quotes a source that reconciles the two sources by saying R' Akiva's son at the time was from a prior wife. It says that first the daughter of Ben Kalba Savua' told R' Akiva to study, and when he became discouraged, the incident with the stone renewed his commitment (hence the wording in ADRN: "מיד חזר ללמוד תורה"). – Fred May 1 '15 at 19:10
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    @Fred: Can you find me a source that says the daughter of Ben Kalba Savua' told R' Akiva to study, and when he became discouraged and that the incident with the stone renewed his commitment? – Chiddushei Torah May 1 '15 at 19:51
  • @Fred - If you do find something, please ping me. My answer, below, would need to be deleted. Shabbat Shalom. – DanF May 1 '15 at 20:00
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I merely excerpted certain parts in my answer to the question you linked to. If you read the whole story in Avot D'Rabbi Natan, it is obvious that this encounter occurred prior to his learning Torah, as it says in that story, that as a result of his "metaphoric" conclusion, he immediately went with his son to locate a children's teacher.

bet midrash appears to be a term used for a group of people (usually adults) studying Torah. I don't think the term "children's teacher" would equate to a bet midrash.

The Talmud records him as saying that he had such hatred for Torah scholars during those years that had he had the chance he would have bitten them like a wild donkey (Pesachim 49b) (Thanks to @hazoriz for pointing out the location). I don't think Rachel would have had as much success to convince Akivah to learn, until he made his own conclusion that learning would be worthwhile to him.

However, it worked, Akivah was a "lucky" man who was fortunate to have a strong-willed woman behind him :-)

  • Bear in mind though that his disdain towards Talmidei Chachamim was because of his jealousy of how they knew what he wished he did. The Gemara says that when you learn in front of an Am Haaretz you are teasing him. – HaLeiVi Jul 2 '15 at 22:47
  • @HaLeiVi Interesting. Is this reasoning mentioned in the Gemarah or one of its commentaries? Here is an example of "positive" jealousy. It caused him to improve himself. – DanF Jul 3 '15 at 21:13
  • I wish I can point to exactly where I saw it, but I don't recall now where it was. I think I saw it as a passing statement in the Maharal. He connected these Gamaros. – HaLeiVi Jul 5 '15 at 4:06
  • The Talmud records him as saying that he had such hatred for Torah scholars during those years that had he had the chance he would have bitten them like a wild donkey (Pesachim49b). – hazoriz Jan 29 '16 at 9:31
  • @hazoriz Thanks very much. I edited your comment into my answer. Feel free to make additional edits. If all is OK, you can delete your comment, as it would be obsolete. – DanF Jan 29 '16 at 14:30

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