Rabbi Shimon was a incarnation of Moses and came to the world to reveal the Secrets of the Torah.
The time had come to reveal the Torah’s secrets, and he had been Heaven-sent to fulfill the mission.
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).
There are those who say concerning discovery of the Zohar that it was found in the Land of Israel by Moslem workers who were serving Christian masters. The Moslem workers unearthed some clay jars, inside of which were some ancient scrolls. The worker then took the scrolls to his Christian master who could not decipher them. The Christian master then went to a local, but trusted Rabbi who was indeed able to recognize and decipher the scrolls, and thus the Zohar was discovered. The scrolls were then smuggled out of the Holy Land in Jewish hands who traveled on a Templar ship. They made their way to Spain and into the hands of Rabbi Moshe DeLeon. It is allegedly he who then transcribed the scrolls and published the Zohar. The Christian masters were the Knights Templar who were searching the Temple mount at the time.
It is interesting to note that in 1290 the Zohar was published in Spain. Almost immediately, without any noticeable objections this body of teachings was embraced by the entire Torah world as the authentic teachings of the Tana Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai. The Zohar infused back into Judaism mystical knowledge that was lacking for a very long time. We do know is that 14 years after the Zohar reached Spain and the gave Judaism needed rejuvenation, forces within the Church dealt a crushing death blow to the Templar movement. Do not let the secular academic view concerning the origin of the Zohar mislead you. Their opinion is what is to be expected by men with out faith, Wisdom of God. Know, R’ Yitchok M’ Acco was sent by the Ramban to investigate the Zohar. From him a document exists that brings witnesses that attest to the existence of the Zohar manuscript from which Moshe DeLeone made his copy which he published. In the Zohar are quoted and mentioned many earlier works which are now unknown such as Sifra de-Adam, the Sifra de-Hanokh, the Sifra di-Shelomo Malka, the Sifra de-Rav Hamnuna Saba, the Sifra de-Rav Yeiba Saba, the Sifra de-Aggadeta, the Raza de-Razin and many others.
In the Book called Zohar is included a number of sections or books including Sifra diTzni`uta/Book of the Concieled (ספרא דצניעותא). There is a tradition that this teach originally was from Yaakov Avinu (Jacob in the Bible). The Idra Rabba/ (The Great Assembly), at this gathering were 9 of Rabbi Shimon’s friends, they gathered to discuss great and deep secrets of Kabbalah. The nine are: Rabbi Eliezer his son, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi bar Yaakov, Rabbi Yitzchak, Rabbi Chezkiyah bar Rav, Rabbi Chiyya, Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Yisa. Before the Idra was over, three of the students died: Rabbi Yossi bar Yaakov, Rabbi Chezkiyah bar Rav, and Rabbi Yisa. The Idra Zuta/The Smaller Assembly (אדרא זוטא),The Smaller Assembly,” distinguishing it from the Greater Assembly, “Idra Rabba,” . In the Idra Zuta Rabbi Shimon‘s colleagues gather again but this time only seven in number, after the three mentioned above died. At this gathering Rabbi Yichak dies and Rebbi Shimon reveals the highest secrets and leave the world himself. The book Ra`aya Meheimna, (The Faithful Shepherd) is the largest “book” included in the book of the Zohar. In it Moses comes down. He is called, the “Faithful Shepherd”. He teaches and reveals to Rashbi and his Holy Friends, secrets of the Torah’s commandments. Another book found scattered throughout the Zohar is called Midrash haNe`elam (The concealed Midrash) (מדרש הנעלם) Midrash haNe`elam is located within the Zohar in parashat Vayera, Chayei Sarah, Toldot and the Zohar Chadash (pp. 2b-30b; 46b-47b (in the Zohar Chadash edition by Rav Reuven Margoliot), and in parashat Balak, Ki Teitze, and the entire Zohar Chadash on Shir haShirim, Ruth, and Eikah. The Midrash haNe’elam is mostly about the upper level of soul called Nashama. The Idra deVei Mashkana (Assembly of the Tabernacle) is mainly with the secrets of prayer, and is found in the Zohar Vol. 2, parashat Mishpatim (pp. 122b-123b). The Hachalot writings (Palaces) describe the palaces of Gan Eden, and Gehinom, and contains many matters related to prayer. They are found in the Zohar Vol. 1, parashat Bereishit (pp 38a-45b); Vol. 2 parashat Pekudei (pp. 244b-262b, Hachalot of holiness and then pp. 262b-268b, The Hachalot of impurity. The part of the Zohar Raza deRazin (Secret of Secrets) deals with revealing the nature of a man accoding to reading the features of his face and hands. It is found in the Zohar Vol. 2,parashat Yitro (pp. 70a-75a). The Saba deMishpatim (“The Elder in parsha Mishpatim) is Rav Yaba the elder, he explains there regarding the transmigration of souls, and punishments of the body in the grave. It is found in the Zohar Vol. 2, parashat Mishpatim (pp. 94a-114a). Tosefta are paragraphs containing the beginnings of chapters on the wisdom of the Kabbalah of the Zohar, and it is dispersed in all three volumes of the Zohar. Sitrei Torah is a part of the Zohar concerning hidden secrets of the soul and the secret of Divinity, and they are dispersed in the Zohar Vol. 1. There is also Tikunei haZohar it is composed of seventy Tikunim (corrections) involving and explaining the word “Bereishit” (בראשית). Also there is the Zohar Chadash (The New Zohar) (זוהר חדש). It was first printed around the year 1558, some thirty years after the first edition of the Zohar was printed. The Zohar Chadash is similar to Zohar itself and is arranged according to the parsha of the Torah and the Megillot. Within Zohar Chadash is what is called Sitrei Otiyot (“Secrets of the Letters”) and Midrash haNe`elam,. There is Midrash haNe`elam on the megillot: Shir haShirim, Ruth, and Eikhah. There is also Tikunei Zohar Chadash, תיקוני זוהר חדש.
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.”
After 32 days of the Omer (paths Chuchmah), days of preparation so to receive knowledge of GOD. Then on the 33rd day of the Omer, the Upper Wellsprings of Divine Knowledge open up, and and we are then given as a gift knowledge far beyond our learning. For, just as the Rashb”i, on Log B’Omer that year, revealed great lights of Secrets of the Torah at that time, Lag B’Omer each year acts as a conduit for Divine light to those who desire, and are prepared, to receive it. The 33 day of the omer is the sefira Hod of Hod (splendour of splendour). From these powers is the revelation.
Log B’Omer was a special day already back in the time of Moses in the desert, for it is the day on which the mana began to fall, just after the matzah they had taken from Egypt ran out.
Emor the Ramban tells us means speaking softly. This is in contrast to vyadaber (most of the laws revealed to Moses are done with this expression of speech) which is language of severity. Emor is instruction to God’s beloved Cohaniam. It is the Speech of lovers. In the kindness of God we should merit this in some of his secrets.
We see from this weeks parsha we either desecrate the the name of God or sanctify it. To desecrate the name means to make it profane. This does not refer as much to one who the name of God is not on their lips. As much as to the one who speaks the name, but not with the proper due כבוד (Honor). The name is spoken with lack of respect. The name is used in a empty or profane way. Thus it says in our parsha :
“ profane not my holy name” (Leviticus 22:2)
Also in the parsha it is stated
“They shall therefore keep my ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it; I YHV”H do sanctify them.” (22:9)
This admonition comes after telling us not to eat unkosher meat. From the severity of this language we can see a little how defiling eating uncosher food makes a Jew. Obviously
One cannot eat such and expect to attain Holiness.
In this parsha it also says:
“ Neither shall you profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the people of Israel; I am YHV”H who sanctifies you,” (22:31)
Many times is it repeated in this parsha “don’t desecrate, profane My Name”, and opposite this it is written “I sanctify the children of Yisrael”. Thus we have to not desecrate by doing what God despises, and has made forbidden. As this desecrates God’s Name, and what do we have without the name ?. Desecration of the name is a very serious matter. Concerning this the Prophet Amos warns in chapter six:
“A man’s uncle, and the one who burned him shall carry out the bones from the house, and he shall say to who is at the sides of house, is there any more with you, and he shall say none, they shall tell them hold your tongue, this is for not mentioning the name YHV’H ” (6:10) The Radak teaches that his friend that comes to burn his body shall carry the limbs from the house. They need to take out these bodies to burn them, because of the stench of decaying corpses. People taking out the bones will rebuke anyone who laments over their dead saying, ” silence, this happened because they did not mention the name of God”. The Metsudat David states that these people that were burned deserved their fate for they did not mention the name of God. The Prophet Joel states ” It will be all who call in the name YHV’H shall be delivered ” (3:5). We see from this that there is nothing left if the Holy blessed name is not on one’s lips.
How much better is it to sanctify all things in the Divine Name, fulfilling mitzvot and making all our actions for heaven.
Concerning one who desecrates the name by working on Yom Kipor the Torah says :
“ And whatever soul it is who does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.” (23:30)
This destruction of the soul explained by Rashi is that the soul is “cut off”. The Torah also states that those who desecrate the name of God and those who desecrate Shabbot are also “cut off”. Rabbi Addah bar Ahava said in the Gemora “The sanctity of shabot is equal to that of Yom Kipor”. As there are 39 categories of forbidden labor on Shabot, so are there 13 attributes of mercy in 3 worlds. These 39 attributes of Mercy provide life force. By transgressing we “cut” these 39 conduits of God’s mercy, cord by cord. Till all 39 , God Forbid, are cut and them there is no life force. But God is very long suffering. In conclusion :
“On that day it shall be eaten up; you shall leave none of it until the next day; I am YHV”H (Leviticus 22:30)
The sages say every expression of “On that day” refers to the time of the day of judgment, the time of revelation of Mashiach. So here too we can understand that as the Rambam says after all the offerings have been made to completely atone for idolatry, we will no longer need sin offerings at the Temple. But the sages do tell us that in the time of Mashiach we shall still bring the thanks giving offering and as the verse says it will be a complete offering with none left over. This illudes to the ability to perform the mitzvot in a way that is not lacking. God willing with the Temple built soon and the rising of the pleasant scent of the Holy offering and may we see this quickly in our days !
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When a man performs one precept the Holy One, blessed is He, gives him an angel to his charge: if he performs many precepts, He gives him half his camp.44
Rabbi Chaninah ben Avohu teaches, concerning man’s angels, that God provides each man one thousand angels to his left and ten thousand to his right. He must sustain them, but they do not request that he feed them.45 If one brings divinity into the Earth through Torah and mitzvot (commandment), then the angels are nourished,s and then, the sages say, the Torah guards those who possess it. 46 God gives each of us potential, but it is left for each of us to develop, as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi teaches: man can be saved by the Holy One as a beast; or as Rabbi Eliezer ben Menachem teaches: the righteous have an Eden for themselves.47 As a reward for one’s religious duties and righteous deeds, God renews His countenance.48 Concerning renewal, Rabbi Nachman teaches that just as the moon is constantly renewed, so are we by the month and year constantly. When one perfects the concept of renewal, this is the root of memory.49 Rabbi Chananya ben Gamliel teaches that if one performs a mitzvah his soul is granted him,50 and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai teaches that as long as man refrains from sin he is an object of awe and fear. 51 With the renewal of the righteous, his soul is granted to him. That which was concealed is revealed, thus raising him in the creation toward becoming the awesome image of which he was created, taking his proper place in the scheme of creation. As the sages teach, the Torah was given in the wilderness, which is neither sown nor tilled, so if one accepts the yoke of Torah, he is relieved of the yoke of earning a living. Just as one is not charged taxes for growing crops in the wilderness, so scholars are free men in this world. 52
It is even taught that if one carefully observes the commandments, even the ones that seem less important, a curse cannot arise upon him. for he is like the Shechinah, their names being merged.53 Concerning the effect of this unity, Rabbi Yashi teaches in the Zohar, the righteous are as kings united to their thrones that He sets forever and remain established to rule over the world. 54 These things may be hidden from the eyes of some now, but Rashi explains that there will come a time when the Holy One will reveal His love. People will learn Torah from His mouth; their position will be higher than that of the Ministering Angels. 55 They will enjoy the Light of the blessed Ain Sof, as explained by Rabbi Schneur Zalman in the Tanya, that by the fulfillment of the commandments a makif (surrounding) light, being an efflux from the Essence of the Light of the blessed Ain Sof (Infinite Divine light), radiates as a garment for the ten sefirot of the worlds of Atzilus, Briah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. Eventually this radiance unites itself with the Ohr P’nimi (Internal Light). This is called the unification of HaKodesh Baruch Hu (God) and his Shechinah (Presence at any given time in the world). From this makiff (surrounding) garment is made in the upper and lower Gan Eden (garden of Eden) for the Nefesh, Ruach, and Nashamah (Levels of soul ) of man, enabling him to attain pleasure, appreciation, and illumination of the light of the blessed Ain S0f56 Further, concerning this illumination, Rabbenu Bachyah teaches in Duties of the Heart that when you act with a faithful heart and pure soul, your understanding will be illuminated. You will see the road to all high excellencies. The evil inclination will have no way to reach and seduce you. You will have the status of those treasured by God. There will be formed within you a new and unusual supernal force. You will partake of permanent joy in your world here and the next. Every hidden secret will become clear in your eyes. The gate of high degrees will be open to you. The curtain between you and the Creator’s Wisdom will be rolled away, yielding Divine Vision. The exalted Creator will give you Divine Power. 57
Kallah Rabbati 54b.
Midrash Rabba Shemot 30: 18.
Ibid. Bamidbar 11: 1.
Ibid. Shemot 32:6.
Ibid. Bamidbar 12:3.
Ibid. Shemot 33:6.
Ibid. Vayikra 27: 1.
Ibid. 28: 1.
Rabbi Nachman’s Stories 365.
Midrash Rabba Bamidbar 5:4.
Ibid. 11 :3.
Zohar 1: 164a.
57.Duties of the Heart 2:279
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