Parashat Vayeshev tells us that, after the death of Rachel, Jacob settled in Hebron where, according to the Kabbalah, he continued his work of rectifying the world. Unfortunately he was not able to complete this mission.

Jacob physically resembled Adam, the first man, because his task was to rectify the sin of Adam, and in particular the sin of lust and illicit relationships. That aspect of Adam's misdeed lived on in Esau, Jacob's twin brother, and this was what Jacob had to oppose and rectify, though he succeeded only partially. It wasn't until the arrival several generations later of another Jacob – Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest Jewish sages who lived in the era of Rome – that this particular aspect of Esau was fully rectified.

...the Hebrew letters of Akiva are those of Jacob, plus the letter aleph for Adam.

We see that in his name – the Hebrew letters of Akiva are those of Jacob, plus the letter aleph for Adam. Thus Rabbi Akiva's life was the culmination of Adam, the first man, and our forefather, Jacob. Rabbi Akiva managed to achieve what both Adam and Jacob wanted to achieve, but were unable. He put back together the pieces which Adam had broken, in a way which even Jacob, because of the blessings which Isaac gave Esau, could not do.

We also see Rabbi Akiva fulfilling another aspect of his task on earth by becoming the arms-bearer for the Jewish warrior of the generation – Bar Kochba (Bar Koziba). The Jews rebelled against the rule of the Romans (who were descendants of Esau) at that time, and Bar Kochba was the leader of the rebellion. Rabbi Akiva saw in this warrior the soul of the Mashiach and not only joined him in battle, but also carried his weapons for him.


[From "Inner Lights from Jerusalem" based on Shem miShmuel and other Chassidic and Kabalistic Sources, translated and presented by Rabbi David Sterne.]