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The gemara in Avodah zara 20a brings a Baraisa that says,

ואף רבי עקיבא ראה אשת טורנוסרופוס הרשע רק שחק ובכה רק שהיתה באה מטיפה סרוחה שחק דעתידה דמגיירא ונסיב לה בכה דהאי שופרא בלי עפרא

We know that Tyrannus rufus was an evil Roman leader (Tannis 29a) and possibly executed R' Akiva himself (see Kohelet rabba 3:17). Why did R' Akiva marry the wife of this "רשע" and anti-semite? Also, Did he marry her while Rachel was still alive, or after she died?

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Based upon the history in Seder HaDorot, this story about how Rabbi Akiva would, in the future, marry the wife of Tyranus Rufus after she converted to Judaism is to be understood as a prophetic vision of a future life. Tyranus Rufus was appointed to put down the rebellion of Bar Kochba. This culminated in the destruction of Beitar.

Rabbi Akiva was born in 3760. The rebellion of Bar Kochba and the fall of Beitar was in 3880. So Rabbi Akiva was at the end of his life. Somewhere between 118 and 120 years old when Tyranus Rufus arrived.

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    This doesn't really answer the OP's question. – Chaim Aug 27 '17 at 1:02
  • @Chaim According to the actual history, it would mean that the marriage would be in a future incarnation of Rabbi Akiva. In other words, via gilgul. That means the vision Akiva saw showed him some kind of tikkun either for her or for him or both. – Yaacov Deane Aug 27 '17 at 1:10

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