Excellence of the Sages

Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi used to list the excellences of the sages [prior to him]… Rabbi Akiva he called a “well stocked storehouse.” To what may Rabbi Akiva be likened? To a laborer who took his basket and went out. He found wheat, and placed some in the basket. He found barely; he put that in. He found spelt; he put that in. Beans; he put them in. Lentils; he put them in. Upon returning home, he sorted out the wheat by itself, the barley by itself and the beans by themselves and the lentils by themselves. This is what Rabbi Akiva did – he made the whole Torah into rings. (Avot de Rabbi Natan Chapter 18)

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