R'Akiva was inspired to begin his Torah studies at the age of forty when he observed how water could wear grooves into solid stone after years of constant dripping.
Forced into a life of abject poverty, R'Akiva and his wife were homeless and took shelter in a hay stall, but she remained loyal and supportive, insisting that she was ready for any sacrifice in order for him to become a scholar. Once he said to her, "If only I could, I would have an artisan create for you a gold tiara in the form of the skyline of Jerusalem."
R'Akiva studied under R'Eliezer ben Hyrkanos and R'Yeshoshua ben Chanania and returned home after twelve years. As he approached his home, he heard an old man chiding his wife: "How long will you be the widow of a live man?" She replied selflessly: "If he were to listen to me he would remain even longer in his studies." R'Akiva immediately turned back and devoted himself to Torah study for twelve years.
Upon his triumphant return home, R'Akiva was escorted by his 24,000 students. His wife went out to greet him in simple clothes that indicated her poverty. Unaware that she was his wife, his students sought to deny her access to their great teacher. Said R'Akiva, "Allow her through, for my Torah and
yours is really hers.
Akiva's love and appreciation for his wife's dedication to him is given vivid expression in his aphorism: "Who is wealthy? One who has a wife whose deeds are beautiful".