I'm attending a bar mitzva celebration recently, and the father of the boy gives a short speech. During his speech he mentions in passing that Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1761–1837, modern-day Austria and Poland), when asked how he had achieved his own greatness, replied that had striven to emulate the Rashba (1235–1310, modern-day Spain). I see the same story, with no further detail, at Aish.com.

Was there something specific about the Rashba that he strove to emulate, or just his generally being a tzadik (good person)? If the latter, why did he strive to emulate the Rashba specifically? There had been many great rabbis over the years. And if the former, what was it about the Rashba that he strove to emulate, and why did he choose that trait specifically to strive to emulate?

  • 4
    This is (probably) not the source, but the Chazon Ish said about him that "R' Akiva Eiger could have been born in the Rashba'a generation, but Hashem had mercy on us and gave us R' Akiva Eiger in our generation." (Wikipedia)
    – Cauthon
    Mar 3, 2016 at 8:23
  • 2
    (Unsure if qualifies as an answer hence a comment) In Me’oran Shel Yisrael (vol. 1 220ff.) the author cites a number of passages from RAE extolling Rashba demonstrating his high regard for Rashba, specifically.
    – Oliver
    Sep 1, 2019 at 17:51
  • 3
    In Sefer Maggid Mesharim parshad Vayeshev the Rashba is called the chosen one of HaShem. וענין ער ואונן נעלם מאוד כמו שכתב הרשב"א בחיר ה'
    – sam
    Aug 13, 2020 at 3:13
  • 2
    The Rashba combined the mehalchim of the baalei tosfos and the Ramban. Rb Akiva Eiger sought to combine the mehalchim of the baalei halachah and the baalei ha'peshat.
    – The GRAPKE
    Feb 17, 2021 at 23:29
  • 2
    @TheGRAPKE if you have a source for that, that sounds like the answer - why don't you post it?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 1, 2022 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


I suggest that there was something specific about the Rashba, that Rabbi Akiva Eiger strove to emulate.

The Rashba was one of the foremost scholars of his day, and one of the most prolific responders to Halachic queries. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, in his generation, had similar qualities.

The primary works of the Rashba, are his expositions on the Talmud, where he strived to elucidate the intricacies of the Talmudic discussions; and his Halachic responsa, where for the most part he responded to Halachic queries of a practical nature, basing his answers on his broad knowledge and understanding of the Talmud.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger's primary works follow the same pattern; expositions on the Talmud, and Halachic responsa based on the Talmud.

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