Such a rich daf! First, the story of “Pardes,” the four who entered the Pardes and came out with very different reactions (Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Elisha ben Avuyah, and R. Akiva). What happened to them is helpful, and perhaps essential, to understanding how people function in the world, when they confront that which is difficult, or metaphysically challenging, and the like. Also, Elisha ben Avuyah’s conduct as Acher (Other), the apostate whom R. Meir still regarded as his teacher. And what that means for both R. Meir and Acher himself
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