I found this quote in the Mishnah last year while I was doing my class The Jewish Context of the Bible while preparing for my lesson on Akiva. After my class that week I wrote a post about two of his sayings, and then filed this third one away for another day. After my recent post, In the Image of God, it reminded me of Akiva’s saying here so I decided at last to write it out.
Next week at Prestoncrest (May 2, 2010) I will be starting a new lesson series in the Hearts in Action class called: Jesus and his Jewish Parables. The focus of the study is to realize that Jesus was not the only Jewish rabbi of the first century who told parables and that by comparing Jesus to his rabbinic contemporaries we can learn quite a bit about Jesus’ own use of the mashal (Hebrew for the literary form known as “parable”). Many of the parables of Jesus in the Gospels have rabbinic parallels with slightly different characters or a different ending that can shine light on Jesus’ own use of the same story – why he told it, who he told it to, what made the “punch line” so effective.
While doing the requisite reading and research for this series, I stumbled across a rabbinic parable that has no Gospel parallel but I found it deeply provocative. It’s interesting to me how reading these parables is almost like reading more of Jesus – they look and sound the same. Come with me now as we look at a parable from Rabbi Meir (ca. 90 – 160 AD?).