אמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שעלה משה למרום מצאו להקב"ה שיושב וקושר כתרים
לאותיות אמר לפניו רבש"ע מי מעכב על ידך אמר לו אדם אחד יש שעתיד להיות
בסוף כמה דורות ועקיבא בן יוסף שמו שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין
תילין של הלכות אמר לפניו רבש"ע הראהו לי אמר לו חזור לאחורך הלך וישב
בסוף שמונה שורות ולא היה יודע מה הן אומרים תשש כחו כיון שהגיע לדבר אחד
אמרו לו תלמידיו רבי מנין לך אמר להן הלכה למשה מסיני נתיישבה דעתו חזר
ובא לפני הקב"ה אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם יש לך אדם כזה ואתה נותן תורה
ע"י אמר לו שתוק כך עלה במחשבה לפני אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם הראיתני
תורתו הראני שכרו אמר לו חזור [לאחורך] חזר לאחוריו ראה ששוקלין בשרו
במקולין אמר לפניו רבש"ע זו תורה וזו שכרה א"ל שתוק כך עלה במחשבה לפני
Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: When Moses ascended on High, he found
the Holy One, Blessed be He, sitting and tying crowns on the letters
of the Torah. Moses said before God: Master of the Universe, who is
preventing You from giving the Torah without these additions? God said
to him: There is a man who is destined to be born after several
generations, and Akiva ben Yosef is his name; he is destined to derive
from each and every thorn of these crowns mounds upon mounds of
halakhot. It is for his sake that the crowns must be added to the
letters of the Torah.
Moses said before God: Master of the Universe, show him to me. God
said to him: Return behind you. Moses went and sat at the end of the
eighth row in Rabbi Akiva’s study hall and did not understand what
they were saying. Moses’ strength waned, as he thought his Torah
knowledge was deficient. When Rabbi Akiva arrived at the discussion of
one matter, his students said to him: My teacher, from where do you
derive this? Rabbi Akiva said to them: It is a halakha transmitted to
Moses from Sinai. When Moses heard this, his mind was put at ease, as
this too was part of the Torah that he was to receive.
Moses returned and came before the Holy One, Blessed be He, and said
before Him: Master of the Universe, You have a man as great as this
and yet You still choose to give the Torah through me. Why? God said
to him: Be silent; this intention arose before Me. Moses said before
God: Master of the Universe, You have shown me Rabbi Akiva’s Torah,
now show me his reward. God said to him: Return to where you were.
Moses went back and saw that they were weighing Rabbi Akiva’s flesh in
a butcher shop [bemakkulin], as Rabbi Akiva was tortured to death by
the Romans. Moses said before Him: Master of the Universe, this is
Torah and this is its reward? God said to him: Be silent; this
intention arose before Me.
What does it mean "this intention arose before me"?
The meforshim (can't remember who, off hand) explain as follows:
אֵ֣לֶּה תוֹלְד֧וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם
עֲשׂ֛וֹת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃
Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created. When the
LORD God made earth and heaven—
ברא אלהים GOD [AS JUDGE] CREATED — It does not state 'ברא ה “The Lord
(the Merciful One) created, because at first God intended to create it
(the world) to be placed under the attribute (rule) of strict justice,
but He realised that the world could not thus endure and therefore
gave precedence to Divine Mercy allying it with Divine Justice. It is
to this that what is written in (Genesis 2:4) alludes — “In the day
that the Lord God made earth and heaven”.
This means to say that the level of strict judgement that was applied to Rabbi Akiva and his associates was the level of strict judgement that the world as a whole could never have survived, but that could be accepted by Rabbi Akiva and his associates.
Hence were this level of judgement not have been able to be accepted by anyone at all the initial justification for the creation of the world would have fallen away and the world would have been destroyed.