I heard this statement dozens of time when I attending a Right Wing Orthodox Jr. high school yeshiva in the NY area.
As a parent, I may not be thrilled that my kids spend hours out of the house during Bnei Akiva's "chodesh irgun", but the following competition is simply heart warming.
YNET and Bnei Akiva teamed up to host the "Aggadic Appreciation Competition" and asked 6 "people of the arts" to state their favorite "Aggada" -- and people can vote for their favorite one.
The competition includes the following:
Chaim Be'er: "When Moshe met Rabbi Akiva" (תלמוד בבלי, מסכת מנחות, דף כ"ט עמוד ב)
Shahara Blau: "Two Sisters and the 'Bitter' Waters" (מדרש רבה ט', ה')
The Talmud in Menachot states: "Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: When Moshe Rabeinu ascended to Heaven, he found the Holy One, Blessed be He, tying crowns onto the letters of the Torah. He said to God: ‘Creator of the Universe, who prevented You?’ [The Maharsha explains that Moshe received the entire Torah on Mt. Sinai - including everything that a skilled student would eventually clarify. All of a sudden, Moshe sees "crowns" on the letters, representing another layer of Torah truth, its greatest secrets. So he asks Hashem: ‘Who prevented You [from revealing these secrets to man in the basic text of the Torah that You have to add on information through the addition of such crowns - (Rashi)? What's more, You wrote the Torah in order to reveal it to man. These secrets are beyond man’s comprehension and therefore seem superfluous".]"God answered: 'There will be a person several generations from now and Akiva the son of Yosef is his name. He will extrapolate innumerable halachot from each of the crowns.' Moshe responded: 'Master of the Universe, let me see him!' God: 'Take a step back.' (This is a difficult statement. Moshe Rabeinu is speaking to God face to face and yet when he is about to meet Rabbi Akiva, he is told to "move back") Moshe thereupon went and sat at the back of the eighth row - and when he listened to Rabbi Akiva’s class, he did not understand the content of what was being discussed. He became exasperated. At one point during the class, however, a student asked Rabbi Akiva: 'What is the source for that law?' To which the teacher responded: 'It’s a halacha transmitted from Moshe on Mt. Sinai.' Moshe was relieved." (link)
[missing this in English...anyone have a link to it?]Sivan Rahat Meir "The Legacy of R' Yochana Ben Zakai" (תלמוד בבלי, מסכת ברכות, דף כ"ח, עמוד ב)
When Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakkai became sick, his students came to visit him. When he saw them enter, he began to cry. "Rebbi, the light of Yisroel, the right pillar, the strong hammer," said his students, "why do you cry?" Answered Rebbi Yochanan, " If I would have to appear in front of an
ordinary King who rules only temporarily and whose anger is not lasting and whose death penalty is only of short duration, wouldn't I be terrified? Now that I must come before the King of Kings, Whose rule is eternal and Whose anger is eternal and Whose punishment of death remains everlasting, should I not be frightened?"" Furthermore," he said "there are two paths in front of me, one leads to Gan Eden while the other leads to Gehenom, and one can never be sure on which path he will be led, shouldn't I therefore cry?" Thereupon they said to him "Rebbi, please bless us". He thereupon told them "If only your fear of heaven be equal to your fear of man". "And not more?" they asked. "When a person sins he is always afraid lest a person see him," was his reply. "If only you realize that HaShem is always watching." (link)
Miron Issacson, "The Guest of R' Yanai" (ויקרא רבה, פרשה ט', ג)
"Rabbi Yanai was once walking along a road and he saw a richly dressed man. He took him into his house and gave him food and drink. He tested the guest in verses of the Tanach but he didn't know, he tested him in Agada but he didn't know, and he tested him in Talmud but he didn't know. He said to him, wash your hands and make the blessing, and he replied, let Yanai make the blessing in his own house (that is, he didn't know to recite the blessing). So Rabbi Yanai declared: A dog has eaten Yanai's bread ... But he said to Rabbi Yanai: it has never happened that I heard something bad and that I replied by gossiping about the person, and I never saw two enemies fighting without being able to bring peace between them. So Rabbi Yanai said: You have such good customs, how could I have called you a dog? Rabbi Yishmael bar Rabbi Nachman said, Derech Eretz preceded the Torah by twenty-six generations, as is written, 'To guard the route to the Tree of Life' [Bereishit 3:24] - the route is derech eretz, natural habits, and only after this does it mention the tree of life, which is Torah." [Vayikra Rabba 9:3]. (link)
"Achnai's oven" deals with the severe controversy that erupted among the sages regarding the impure clay oven that broke and was put together again with sand.The Gemara tells us that Rabbi Eliezer declared the oven to be pure and the sages declared it impure. Rabbi Eliezer, who held a minority opinion, called forth many signs from heaven to prove his point. A carob tree was pulled out of its place. An aqueduct changed its course. The walls of the Beit Midrash tilted as though they would fall, and even a celestial voice was heard to justify his stand. However, the majority opinion prevailed over the minority, even though G-d was on Rabbi Eliezer's side. (link)
The Gemora cites an incident with Rabbi Elozar illustrating this theme. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon rode his donkey along the riverbanks, traveling from his yeshiva to Migdal G'dor, his hometown. He was extremely happy, and self-assured having learned so much Torah. Suddenly, he met an exceptionally ugly man.
"Shalom alecha, Rebbi," the man greeted R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon however, instead of greeting him in return, scolded him.
"You -- good for nothing -- how ugly you are! Are all the people in your town as ugly as you?"
"I don't know," answered the man, "but maybe you'd like to tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is!
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon immediately realized that he had made a bad mistake. He got down from his donkey, and bowed down before the man.
"Please, forgive me," he begged.
"First," answered the man, "tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is. Then I will forgive you!"
The man walked off, with R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon tailing humbly after him. They came to Migdal G'dor, R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon's hometown. There, many people came out to greet the great
scholar. "Shalom alecha, Rebbi, Rebbi, Mori, Mori," they called.
"Whom are you calling Rebbi, Rebbi," the ugly man asked them.
"The person who walks behind you," they answered.
"If this is a rabbi," he exclaimed, "may there not be too many of them in Yisrael."
"Why do you say this?" they asked.
"Do you know how he treats people?" he answered, and told them the story.
"Even so, forgive him, for he is a Torah giant," the people requested.
"For the sake of this town I will forgive him," the man responded, "as long as he promises never to act like this again."
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon then entered the shul and the people assembled there. "A person needs always to be as flexible as a reed," he taught them, "and not hard like a cedar." This, says the Gemora, is the reason, the common reed is used as a quill to write the Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos (link)