Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish (Reish Lakish)
This former gladiator or highwayman turned scholar was among the most incisive sages of his generation. He lived during the first three quarters of the third century in the Galilee. He ably discerned multiple facets to each of the issues he faced, with a wide reaching breadth of knowledge. Because of his former life , his peers acknowledged his expertise in matters related to weaponry. Per tradition, before he began studies, Rabbi Yochanan saw Shimon one day swimming in the Kineret. Taken by his physical appearance, Rabbi Yochanan recruited Shimon Lakish to study Torah and to marry Yochanan's own sister. Among the many statements quoted from Reish Lakish among the most poetic is "The World exists only by virtue of the breath of little children studying Torah. (Shabbat 119b)"