Photo Credit: Jewish Press
Rochelle Brand

On a small hill, up a dirt road, outside of Tiberias is another Tomb of Rachel. In keeping with the humility of the one buried there, this is the final resting place for an inspiring role model, Rachel bat Kalbah Savuah.

“Behind every great man there is a great woman!” Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef is well known as one of the greatest Jewish scholars, referred to in the Talmud as Rosh la-Hachamim, “Chief of the Sages.” What is also known about Rabbi Akiva is that thanks to the prodding and support of his wife Rachel, he was able to study unencumbered for 24 years and accumulate the Torah knowledge and spiritual success for which he is famous.


The Talmud Bavli and the Talmud Yerushalmi recount that Rachel, daughter to Kalba Savuah, one of the richest men in Jerusalem, recognized the potential in Rabbi Akiva, an unassuming, uneducated shepherd. Defying her father, eschewing a life of luxury, Rachel lived in abject poverty enabling her beloved husband, who at the age of 40 began his Torah studies, to “shteig.” Rabbi Akiva not only recognized his wife’s sacrifices but by example taught his students to show appreciation for the support they received from their wives. Rabbi Akiva bought Rachel a golden tiara and proclaimed to his disciples “Mine and yours are hers.. Perhaps this has become the paradigm to which many kollel couples are aspiring.

I also suggest that in any relationship there needs to be mutual respect and support. Whether a woman is following her dreams or a man following his, success comes from a sharing of responsibilities, appreciation, and building a future together based on a strong Torah foundation.

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With many years of teaching and administrative experience both in the U.S. and in Israel, yeshivot and public school, Dr. Rochelle Brand (Shelly) now serves at Head of School at SBTAG in South Florida. She received her Doctorate in Educational Administration from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.