Filed under: Kaballa of the Ari and Zohar | Tags: Log ba omer, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi
Rabbi Shimon was a incarnation of Moses and came to the world to reveal the Secrets of the Torah
Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai together with his son Elazar hid from the Romans, first in the Beth Hamidrash (House of Study) and later, whcn the danger became even greater, in a cave.
At the entrance of the cave, a carob tree started to grow, and running water started to flow. Thus, in a miraculous way; both father and son were sustained throughout their stay in the cave for thirteen years!
During these thirteen years, Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and his son studied the Torah continually and they delved into the deepest secrets of the Torah and of G-d’s creation.
On emerging from the cave after an absence of 13 years, Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai became even more famous as a holy man and great Tanna (Teacher). They went to Tiberias to cure themselves in the warm waters of that town, as their physical condition was very poor due to their continued stay in the cave.
Tiberias was then considered to be an unclean town, as it was held to have been founded (by Herod Antipater - a grandson of Herod the “Great”) on the site of a cemetery. When Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and his son were cured by the hot springs of Tiberias, as a sign of gratitude they occupied themselves with finding out which part of the town was unclean, and they declared the rest of the town to be clean and therefore habitable even for Kohanim (Priests-who are not allowed to become defiled by the dead).
Rabbi Aba said that after Rabbi Shimon uttered the word “life”, all his words ceased. The light in the room was so great that Rabbi Aba could not look, and two voices were heard saying “For length of days, and long life”, and then, “He asked life of you”. We are told of the miraculous events that happened during the rest of that day. Rabbi Aba said, the holy luminary barely finished uttering “life,” when his words ceased. I was writing and was about to write more, yet heard nothing. I did not raise my head, because the light was great and I could not look. I then trembled and heard a voice calling and saying, “For length of days, and long life…” (Proverbs 3:2), AND THEN I heard another voice, “He asked life of You…” (Psalms 21:5). All that day the fire did not cease from the house and no one reached him for they could not because of the light and fire that encircled him. I was prostrated all that day on the ground, crying loudly. After the fire was gone, I saw that the holy luminary, the holy of holies, was gone from the world, wrapped around and lying on his right side with a smiling face. Rabbi Elazar his son rose, took his hands and kissed them, while I licked the dirt under his feet. The friends started crying. Rabbi Elazar his son prostrated three times and could not open his mouth. He then started saying, Father, father, there were three that BECAME one again.
THAT IS, THERE WERE THREE GREAT MEN IN THE LAND, RABBI ELAZAR, RABBI SHIMON BAR YOCHAI HIS FATHER AND HIS FATHER-IN-LAW RABBI PINCHAS BEN YAIR. NOW RABBI ELAZAR IS ORPHANED OF HIS FATHER-IN-LAW AND HIS FATHER RABBI SHIMON AND ONLY ONE REMAINS IN THE WORLD. NOW, AFTER THIS GREAT TREE IS GONE, UNDER WHICH THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD USED TO WALK AND IN WHICH BOUGHS DWELT THE BIRDS OF THE SKY AND WHICH HAD FOOD FOR EVERYONE, NOW the beasts will wander and the birds THAT USED TO DWELL IN ITS BOUGHS will sink into the chasm in the great sea, and the friends, INSTEAD OF THE FOOD THEY RECEIVED FROM IT will drink blood.
Rabbi Chiya rose to his feet and said, Up until now the holy luminary used to protect us. Now is the time to strive to honor him. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba rose and took him to a bed made like a ladder.
Who has ever seen such confusion of the friends! The whole house emitted good fragrances. They raised him on his bed, and none served him but Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba. Bullies and armed people came from the village of Tzipori.
They WANTED HIM TO BE BURIED THERE AND CAME TO TAKE HIM BY FORCE. They thought his merit would protect them.
The inhabitants of Meron drove them away and shouted at them in their multitudes, because they did not want him to be buried there,
BUT WHERE THEY THEMSELVES LIVED.
After the bed left the house, it rose in the air and fire burned before it. They heard a voice, ‘Come and gather to the feast of Rabbi Shimon. “shall enter in peace to them that rest in their graves”‘ (Isaiah 57:2). . When he entered the cave they heard a voice inside the cave, ‘This is the man who caused the earth to tremble, who provoked kingdoms. How many prosecutors in the firmament are quieted today for your sake. This is Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, with whom his Master glorifies Himself daily. Blessed is his portion above and below. How many supernal treasures await him. Of him it says, “But go you your way till the end be, for you shall rest, and stand up for your allotted portion at the end of the days”‘ (Daniel 12:13).
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Of Blessed Memory alone was given permission to reveal the great mysteries contained in the hidden teachings and to distribute free gifts (Zohar III:124b).
Prior to Rabbi Akiva’s passing, this great teacher of the Jewish people summoned his two beloved disciples, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Meir baal HaNess. They asked Rabbi Akiva which of them would be replacing him. Rabbi Akiva said, “Rabbi Meir shall take over the position as head of the Yeshiva.” Then turning to Rabbi Shimon he said, “It is sufficient that your Creator and I know the level your greatness” (Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 2).
Rabbi Shimon said, “I have the power to correct the entire world; I can exempt the whole world from judgment.” (Talmud Sukkah 45b).
Rabbi Shimon was leaving the cave where he and his son Rabbi Elazar had been in hiding from the Romans for thirteen years. They were talking about the righteousness which exists in the world when Rabbi Shimon said “It’s enough that you and I are in the world.” Another time he said, “I myself have sufficient merit for the entire world.” (Talmud Shabbat 33b; Sukkah 45b)
These teachings only reveal a small degree of Rabbi Shimon’s greatness and give only a partial glimpse of the true benefit he brought into the world. This being the case, we celebrate the passing of the True Tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. This in itself is a great wonder, an obvious contradiction. How can we celebrate and enjoy Lag B’Omer, when it recalls the day when such great good and benefit was taken from the world? What kind of celebration is this? On the contrary, we should rend our garments, as for the destruction of the Temple; as our sages taught, “The passing of a Tzaddik is more severe than the Temple’s destruction!”
Many miracles occurred when Rabbi Simeon and his son were in the cave, until Elijah the Prophet came and informed them that the Emperor had died, and they could come out into the open. They taught the Torah to many disciples, also instructing them in the Mystic science known as Kabbalah, revealing to them many secrets which now form the holy Zohar.
For hundreds of years the teachings of the Zohar were handed down from one generation to the next until a great scholar, Rabbi Moshe the son of Rabbi Shem Tov de Leon - who lived about 650 years ago, published the holy Zohar that Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai had compiled.
From that time on, the Zohar has been widely studied by the Jews, and is considered to be very holy. Many great scholars studied the Zohar and found it to be an unending source of inspiration to uplift the soul and to reach the loftiest heights in the service of G-d.
Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai died in Meron on Lag B’Omer, and his Yahrzeit is celebrated to this day. Many thousands of Jews with their children gather in Meron, in the Upper Galilee, where they spend the night and day of Lag B’Omer in prayer and study, and are inspired by the holy teachings of “Bar Yochai.”
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