Rabbi Akiva and His Questions


Rabbi Akiva was walking home one night on the same path he always traveled, except that this night was incredibly foggy and he missed his usual turn off the path.

Soon he encounters a massive fortress.

At the gate the Rabbi hears the voice of a guard yelling to him from the wall, “Who are you and why are you here?”

Upon hearing those words, the Rabbi asks: “How much are you paid for your work?

“Two shekels a day,” the guard responded.

Rabbi Akiva then looks up at the guard and says, “I will pay you twice that if you follow me to my home and ask me those very same questions every single morning.”

I will pay you double

While so many of us are busy getting ready for Christmas and the end of the year, Rabbi Akiva (who lived around the time the Gospels were written) tells this little story. I remind you of it as a reflection to this Advent season:

I was walking home after the sun had set and while being caught up in my meditation, I took a wrong turn home. I arrived at the gates of a Roman garrison and a voice shouted down to me, "Who are you? What are you doing here?” The night watchman's voice was so loud it jolted me out of my meditating. Additionally, I was so caught off guard by his question that I didn’t respond. He then shouted again, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” I shouted back, “What do they pay you to do this job?” The watchman answered, "A coin a day!” I then told him that I would pay him double if he would come stand at my front door and ask me those same two questions every time I left my home and returned.

Who are you?

What are doing here?