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Story of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Horkunos

It says in the Pirkeh D’Rabi Eliezer that the father of Rabbi Eliezer was Horkunos. He was one of the wealthiest men of his time, but his children grew up without learning Torah. When Eliezer was 28, a spark inside of him was ignited. He had a yearning to learn Torah. His father told him he is too old, rather, he should get married and have children and send them to learn. A couple of weeks went by and Eliezer couldn’t contain himself. He was willing to give up all his money to go learn instead. And that’s what he did. He went to Raban Yochanan ben Zakai and he cried, asking the Rabbi if he would teach him Torah. Raban Yochanan ben Zakai asked him if he knew Shema or tefila or Birkat Hamazon and Eliezer answered in the negative to all three. Raban Yochanan ben Zakai saw his yearning and he began teaching him slowly, just two halachot a day every day of the week and, on Shabbat, he would review. Not too long afterward, his father Horkunos came to see him. He was going to tell him if he doesn’t come back to work, he would be cut out of the inheritance. When he arrived, Raban Yochanan ben Zakai told Eliezer to get up in front of everybody in the study hall and teach them what he learned. When he began speaking, his face was shining radiantly. The kedusha was readily apparent to everybody in the room, including his father. After he finished, Raban Yochanan ben Zakai kissed him on his forehead and said, “Fortunate is Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov that you are one of their descendants. And fortunate is your father, here, who raised you.”Horkunos was very impressed, he told his son how proud he was of him and that he would now give him all the inheritance. Eliezer grew up to become a towering sage, the great Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkunos who eventually became the Rabbi of Rabbi Akiva. He was a 28 year old baal teshuva, but he had a desire and was willing to sacrifice everything for it and Hashem blessed him with a plethora of siyata d’Shamaya.

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