Raish Lakish, as he is known, was born Shimon Ben Lakish. Born to an illustrious family, young Raish Lakish attended cheder together with R’ Yochanan, yet his youth found him in a place far from the path.
He was the leader of a gang of bandits when he jumped over a river. R’Yochanan, walking nearby, said, “with strength like that, why don’t you use it for Torah learning? If you become learned, I will let you marry my sister” (if she lets). R’ Yochanan was extremely good looking and his sister was even better looking.
And so it was Reish Lakish went on to become a great sage (and he become R’Yochanan’s brother in law).
Reish Lakish, a gang leader, became someone often mentioned in the Gemorah. If he could do Teshuva and have a complete turn-around – why can’t we?
P.S His story is rather similar to that of R’Akiva. Not only did R’ Akiva not know his Aleph Beis until he was forty, he was also anti-rabbi’s. So there is hope for everyone!
Next Week’s riddle: On what day does Parshas Vayelech take place?
wow. so cool story.
I like it too… it illustrates that one can earn olam haba even in one hour. It helped me over the Yomim Norayim when I thought about all the things I had done over the year, the story of Raish Lakish gave me encouragement.