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According to the Babylonians Talmud (Tractate Brachot 55b), whoever is afraid of the evil eye should stick his right thumb in his left hand and his left thumb in his right hand, proclaiming:
"I, so and so, son of so and so, am of the seed of Joseph, whom the evil eye may not affect."
The gesture (a "fig") - universally used to avert the evil eye by putting it to shame (this original meaning was probably unknown to sages who prescribed it) - took on a Jewish character by the pronouncement of the aggadic sentence that the descendants of Joseph are immune from the evil eye (Brachot 20a).
A fish is also a symbol of protection from the evil eye. Since fish live under water, they are not subject to glances of ill intent. Like Joseph who the Bible tells us is immune to the evil eye, as he was blessed by Jacob in Genesis 49:22 to be "above the eye."
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Pardes ( orchard) is the subject of a Jewish aggadah ("legend") about four rabbis of the Mishnaic period who visited the Orchard (some say, Paradise). The original text appears in the Babylonian Talmud tractate Chagiga 14b (as well as in the Jerusalem Talmud). This text is regarded by many as a mystical text.
"Four men entered pardes - Ben Azzai , Ben Zoma, Acher, and Akiba. Ben Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma looked and went mad; Acher destroyed the plants; Akiba entered in peace and departed in peace.”
Pardes in Hebrew forms an acronym that is an allegory for the four layers of learning, or the four different approaches to Biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism or, simpler, interpretation of text in Torah study.
Peshat - "plain" ("simple") or the direct meaning
Remez- "hints" or the deep (allegoric) meaning beyond just the literal sense
Derash from Hebrew darash: "inquire" ("seek") - the comparative midrashic meaning, as given through similar occurrences
Sod (pronounced with a long O as in gold) - "secret" ("mystery") or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation
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Talmud Bavli, tractate Bracot 5b
Rabbi Chiya bar abba was ill so Rabbi Yochanan went to visit him, he asked him:
"are these afflictions dear to you?"
Rabbi Chiya answered him: not them and not their reward!
Rabbi Yochanan said to him: "Give me your hand."
Rabbi Chiya gave him his hand and Rabbi Yochanan revived him.
Rabbi Yochanan was ill so Rabbi Chanina went to visit him, and asked him:
"are these afflictions dear to you?"
Rabbi Yochanan answered him: not them and not their reward!
Rabbi Chanina said to him: "Give me your hand."
Rabbi Yochanan gave him his hand and Rabbi Chanina revived him.
So the Talmud asks, why did Rabbi Yochanan need Rabbi Chanina's help? Let Rabbi Yochanan revive himself!
The Talmud answers: A captive cannot release himself from prison. He needs help from someone from the outside.
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The most common version of Akiva's death is that the Roman government ordered him to stop teaching Torah, on pain of death, and that he refused. Akiba's martyrdom is a seminal event in Jewish history and is regarded as an example of total devotion as well as the significance and power of learning through exegesis from text and prayer.
The story is recounted in a few sources. The most famous one appears in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Brachot 61b):
“When R. Akiva was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of the Shema', and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of heaven. (he offered prayer to God) His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? (even now? As you are burned alive you praise God?) He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, 'with all thy soul', [which I interpret,] 'even if He takes thy soul'. I said: When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfill it?
He prolonged the word ehad (one) until he expired while saying it. A bath kol (a heavenly voice) went forth and proclaimed: Happy art thou, Akiva, that thy soul has departed with the word ehad! (one) The ministering angels said before the Holy One, blessed be He: This is Torah, and this is its reward?” [He should have been] from them that die by Thy hand, O Lord.”
He replied to them: Their portion is in life.
A bath kol went forth and proclaimed: Happy art thou, R. Akiva, that thou art destined for the life of the world to come.
For Akiva the most important thing in life as in death was the essence of Judaism: he lived, worked, and died for it.