http://revach.net/article.php?id=194

Section:  Avodah   Category: General
Rebbi Akiva: Never Give Up!

Imagine how a Rosh Yeshiva feels when a young student from his yeshiva passes away suddenly. It would surely be the talk of town for a long time. Dare to grasp what it means to a Rebbi when a group of boys suddenly die in a freak accident. Can we begin to fathom how Rebbi Akiva the greatest of all sages, who had a Yeshiva of 24,000 students felt when suddenly in a short period not one, not 100 but every single one of his 24,000 students die. 24,000 future Gedolei Hador!

He is left with absolutely nothing and is now 80 years old. He has all the reason in the world to be depressed. Yet instead he puts up a sign that he is opening a new Yeshiva and looking for new students. Only 5 boys answer the call. Down from 24,000 to 5, yet apparently he still feels it is worth his while even at his advanced age. Those 5 students became the leaders of their generation.  Only with Mesiras Nefesh like that does the Torah live on!