There is a vort in the Oznayim laTorah that gives me an excuse to go off on a little soapbox tangent. Moshe Rabeinu as a baby was tossed into the river like any other baby, the only difference being that he was rescued. Couldn't Hashem have found some way to spare baby Moshe so that he would not even come close to suffering the same potential fate as all the other children? R' Zalman Sorotzkin answers the question with an anecdote from his family. He writes that his brother, who was leaning in Volozhin and was a tremendous talmid chacham, was conscripted into the Russian army. His mother had no doubt that his brother would be released, as "Kol ha'mekabel alav ol Torah..." is not burdened with the ol malchus, and so it was. But he was bothered by the question: Why did this happen? Why was there in shamayim a seeming hava amina of his conscription only to come to a different maskana? His mother explained that this too was part of Hashem's bigger plan. Since his brother would one day be a gadol, a rav u'manhig b'yisrael, he needed to taste the pain of his brothers, he needed experience in some measure what they experienced, so that he would later be able to empathize with their plight and understand their hardship.
I want to ask a "dangerous" question: Do talmidei chachamim sitting in kollel today empathize with me; can they understand and relate to my life experience? I don't know the answer to that, which I find scary. I certainly don't feel it is an unqualified, confident "yes." I think there is a vast difference between sitting in an ivory tower and writing a sefer on some narrow area of halacha (which we seem to see more and more of these days, with ever increasingly sophisticated chumros based in new lomdus and pilpul) and being a rav, a manhig, a real gadol. Rav Shach, for example, could appreciate the burden of any and every Jew because he struggled to learn Torah when he had no winter coat and not much food in harder winters than we ever have. I don't know if suffering is a prerequisite for the job of manhig, but appreciating the often harsh reality of life is. Perhaps it is just the nature of things the individuals who can do that are indeed rare.