Rabbi Joseph Caro (author of the Shulchan Aruch, 1488–1575) once encountered an extremely difficult passage in his study of the Talmud. After many days and nights of toil, he finally succeeded in comprehending its meaning.

At a nearby table in the study hall sat a man who would come every evening for an hour or two of study. Although his business consumed the bulk of his day, and his study skills were limited, he diligently pursued his nightly page of Talmud. Rabbi Joseph noticed that this man (who was studying aloud, as is customary in the study of Torah) was approaching the very passage that had given him such difficulty; curious as to how his neighbor would deal with it, Rabbi Joseph listened in. To his great surprise, the businessman mastered the passage without any difficulty, immediately hitting upon the very interpretation which he had himself arrived at only after so much effort.

Rabbi Joseph was greatly distressed by the incident. Obviously, he thought, there is something grievously lacking in my understanding of Torah. Why else would it have taken so much time and toil on my part to see what is so readily obvious to even a part-time, rather unexceptional student of Talmud?

That night, Rabbi Joseph had a dream, in which it was revealed to him the significance of what had occurred. Know, he was told, that from the time that the Torah was given at Sinai, no man had comprehended the particular insight which you have uncovered. This is why you had to labor so strenuously—this facet of the divine wisdom had yet to enter the world of earthly intellect. But your efforts opened the channel by which this truth was revealed. Having opened this channel, you have made this truth readily accessible to every mind that approaches the study of G‑d’s Torah.