One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain...by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain, he said. It destroys our self-pride, our arrogance, our indifference toward others. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend on the Master of the Universe.
This is the second of Potok's books I've read. My Name is Asher Lev was wonderful as well. Both books have profound things to say about family, community, and independence. This was a wonderful book about the importance of friendship and how pain is passed on from generation to generation.
I found the above quote and the content of the book to be helpful in my work. I definitely recommend it.