Struggle - Blessing or Curse

Article from: Alon HaKodesh (14) Lag B'Omer Edition

“They would shed their clothes and sit covered in sand up to their necks. All day long they would study [Torah] together, and when the times for prayer arrived, they would dress, cover themselves and pray….

….Eventually Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, the father-in-law of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, heard that Rabbi Shimon had emerged from hiding and he went out to greet him. He escorted him to the bathhouse and was massaging his flesh when he saw that there were cracks in [R’ Shimon’s] skin. Seeing these painful vestiges of years spent in the abrasive sand, [R’ Pinchas] began to cry; and as tears trickled from his eyes, they fell upon the cracks in R’ Shimon’s skin and caused him to cry out in pain. Thereupon, [R’ Pinchas] said to [R’ Shimon]: Woe unto me for having seen you like this! [R’ Shimon] replied to him: on the contrary! Fortunate are you for having seen me like this, for had you not seen me in such a state (i.e. bearing the marks of physical agony), you would not have found within me such (i.e. the great insight in Torah that I now possess).” (Shabbat 33B)