The Sept. 16 piece, “Hanging Ten For A Minyan,” on Rabbi Eli Goodman, the “surfing Rabbi,” reminded me of a Talmudic story about Rabbi Akiva, in the first recorded instance of surfing some 1,600 years earlier than the European reports of surfing in Tahiti in 1767.
In Yevamoth 121a, Rabbi Gamliel related, “I was once traveling on board a ship when l observed a shipwreck and was sorely grieved for the apparent loss of a scholar who had been traveling on board that ship. (And who was he? — Rabbi Akiva.) When I subsequently landed, he came to me and sat down and discussed matters of halacha. ‘My son,’ I asked him, ‘who rescued you?’ ‘The plank of a ship,’ he answered me, ‘came my way, and to every wave that approached me I bent my head.’”
So, Rabbi Goodman is in very good company with Rabbi Akiva, bending his head back and forth as he surfed the waves.