She could have been a princess, but the wise and beautiful Rachel, heiress to one of the greatest fortunes of the land, forfeited her legacy to marry an ignorant shepherd against her father's will. Shunned by all but her lifelong friend Leah, Rachel plummets from the heights of wealth and influence to the depths of poverty. Her new husband Akiva, at her insistence, devotes himself to Torah study and travels to far-off Lod to learn at the academy, while Rachel is left to raise their children alone in a cold, stone hovel. Leah, whose life is inextricably intertwined with Rachel's, is at first appalled over her friend's situation, and then tremendously impressed by her self-sacrifice. She sees that Rachel, far from being miserable and lonely, is blissfully content, convinced that Akiva is destined for greatness. With Rachel as her inspiration, Leah grows to become a woman of valor in her own right, guiding her own husband and children to a life of Torah. Her shallowness and self-absorption give way to profound respect for Torah scholarship and an insightful grasp of the compelling events of the day. With time, Rachel's confidence in Akiva proves to be well placed and soon his reputation as a brilliant scholar spreads throughout the province. Rachel's joy knows no bounds, and Leah rejoices with her. Suddenly calamity strikes, a disaster of such proportion that no family can avoid the suffering. It seems as though the mourning will go on forever. Then, through the fortitude and foresight of their leaders, the People become imbued with a spirit of renewal. Their hopes soar as they begin to rebuild. With luminaries like Akiva to light the way, the Nation puts the dismal past aside and strides courageously towards a glorious future. Leah faithfully records it all, and through her "journal" a riveting saga of the Jewish People unfolds, a timeless tale of drama and intrigue, tragedy and triumph. It is a story as old as the Mishnah and as new as tomorrow.
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