And Rachel Was His Wife: An Anonymous Manuscript

Marsi Tabak, Other Feldheim Publishers $0 (305p) ISBN 978-0-87306-488-0
Rabbi Akiva, who lived in Israel at about the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., was one of the great sages of Jewish history. In this historical novel, the Akiva story serves as a context in which the primary themes surface--the importance of Akiva's wife Rachel's encouragement of his study of Torah, and how essential it is to contract proper marriages. When Rachel, daughter of the enormously wealthy Kalba Savua, insists on marrying penniless shepherd Akiva--over her father's protests--he leaves them indigent. Undaunted, she creates a modest home and fully supports Akiva's desire to study at the yeshiva in Lod. Her husband leaves home for 24 years and returns as a renowned scholar with thousands of students. Though this story holds intrinsic interest, the level of the writing is distressingly poor, and seems disconcertingly modern in content and style. Rabbi Akiva, martyred by the Romans, was indeeed a central figure in the religious, political and social upheavals and tragedies of this seminal era of Jewish history; and while the unnamed author, credited by the publisher as ``a talented writer'' who ``chose to remain anonymous,'' cites some 270 Biblical and exegetical sources, many concerning Akiva, few real insights into the period are offered. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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