Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

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Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai
Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
Other Names:
The Rashbi, Rebbe Shimon ben Yochai
Yochi, Simeon, Yohai
Lag Baomer = 18th of Iyyar
A 4th generation Tana, one of the all time leading kabbalists and the author of the Zohar.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai also known as the Rashbi was a 4th generation Tana and a student of Rabbi Akiva, recognized even in his youth for his greatness in Torah. He was one of the five student to receive Smicha from Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava and later from Rabbi Akiva following the death of his students. After being sentenced to death for making a negative remark about the Roman government, Rebbe Shimon was forced to flee along with his son Rebbe Elazar, hiding in a cave in Peki'in for 13 years. Great mysteries of the Torah were revealed to the Rashbi during the years he spent in the cave and upon emerging he founded the school that created the Zohar, one of the pillars of the Kabbalah. Often quoted in the Mishna under the name 'Rebbe Shimon', he also authored the basis of the Sefri. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is buried in Meron, his Kever being the most visited in the world, with over 600,000 visitors arriving to his Hillula on Lag Baomer. He is known to have been one of the five 'Tzadiki Yesod Olam' that existed throughout history.


[edit] Fasts

Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai fasted three sets of 40 consecutive days during which he did not eat or drink just like Moshe Rabbenu. During this time he stood in prayer for the Jewish Nation.[1]

[edit] Family

Rabbi Shimon was the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair and possibly had a son-in-law with the same name. Meaning his daughter married the grandson of Rabbi Pinchas the Elder who was also named Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair.

[edit] Atone for the World

Rabbi Shimon declared about himself that he could absolve the entire world from Judgment[2] since he can carry the burden of all their sins.[3]

[edit] Idra Zuta

Rebbe Shimon passed away on Lag Baomer, the 18th of Iyyar. On that day he revealed many great mysteries of the Kabbalah to his students and this event is known as the Idra Zuta - the Lesser Assembly, in contrast to the Idra Raba - the Greater Assembly, where more students were present.

[edit] Seat by Achiya HaShiloni

When Rebbe Shimon became ill, Rabbi Pinchas, Rabbi Chiya, Rabbi Aba and the Chavarim came before him. They heard Rabbi Shimon say something but he had disappeared and they could not see him. They wondered and none could utter a word due to the great fear that fell upon them. Suddenly they began to smell heavenly fragrances that strengthened them and once again they saw Rebbe Shimon. He was talking to someone but they saw no one besides him. Time passed and then Rabbi Shimon questioned his students if they had seen something. Rabbi Pinchas responded that they had not but were all wondering regarding his disappearance, the heavenly fragrances from the Garden of Eden and his conversation with an invisible entity. Rabbi Shimon responded that they had taken him Above and shown him the seats of the Tzadikim in the Next World but he was only satisfied when he selected his seat near the Prophet Achiya HaShiloni.[4]

[edit] Stopping of the Sun

In middle of the Idra Zuta after noticing that the sun was setting Rabbi Shimon announced that "the day will not distance itself and settle in its place since the entire day is under his control",[5], therby holding the sun in place and preventing it from setting just like Yehoshua Bin Nun had done.[6]

[edit] Day of Atonement

A the end of the Idra Zuta a heavenly Bat Kol voice came out and declared "how many prosecutors in Heaven have been silenced on this day in your merit". Many people that had large debts of horrible punishments and reincarnations were freed from judgment and saved from retribution in the merit of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai on that day.[6]

[edit] Burial

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's bed elevated itself and flew though the air and a fire burnt before it. All present heard a voice call out 'come to the celebration of Rebbe Shimon, may he come in peace and rest in his burial location.' When his bed entered the cave, they heard a voice from inside declare "This man uproars the land and upsets governments".

[edit] Cave of Rabbi Shimon

The cave where Rebbe Shimon hid with his son is located in Peki'in.

[edit] Kever Rebbe Shimon

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is buried in Meron along with his son Rebbe Elazar. Their actual kever is in a cave which is now inaccessible but people pray at the tomb built above the cave with Matzevot aligned directly above the actual kivarim. Kever Rashbi is the most visited tomb in Israel with thousands of people streaming through each day during all hours. Historically many visitors to Eretz Yisroel would make trips to this location and recorded it in their dairies.

Even in Tanaic and Talmudic times Kever Rashbi was a renown spiritual shrine and the Talmud recorded an incident of it being visited by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and Eliyahu Hanavi, which possibly occurred on Lag Baomer.[7] The Zohar records the kever being visited by Rabbi Abba[8], Rabbi Chiya[9] and one of Rabbi Shimons former students how had forgotten his learning, remembering it after weeping by the Kever.[10]

[edit] Hillula of Rabbi Shimon

The hillulah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is celebrated each year on Lag Baomer. Over 600,000 attend the celebrations in Meron. Before he became well known the holy Arizal traveled with his entire family from Egypt, probably leaving right after Pesach, for the hillulah and spent three days in Meron.

[edit] Joy

There is great joy by the Hillula of the Rashbi and thousands of people dance in the courtyard and surrounding mountain slope. These joyous festivities were documented in many traveler dairies throughout the generations. Rabbi Avraham HaLavi was accustomed every day to recite the Nachem mourning prayers for the destruction of the Temple. After he recited them by the Tziyun during the Hillula, Rebbe Shimon appeared standing above his tomb to the Arizal and instructed him to inform Rabbi Avraham that since he had mourned during his day of joy, he would soon have reason to mourn due to the passing of one of his children.

[edit] Burning Garments

There is an old custom to burn new expensive garments during the Hillula in honor of Rabbi Shimon. In the 1800's this custom came under controversy for transgressing the prohibition of 'Bal Tashchis' needless wasting of useful objects. Rabbi Shmuel Heller authored an entire book called 'Kavod Milachim' defending this custom. He brought testimony from the Sephardic Elders of Tzfat who witnessed Rabbi Chaim ben Atar (the Ohr Hachaim) himself burn valuable garments in honor of Rabbi Shimon in Meron on Lag Baomer.

[edit] Zayin Adar

Many people visit the tomb of the Rashbi on Zayin Adar for the Hillulah of Moshe Rabbenu since part of his soul was reincarnated in Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and both of them held the position of the Tzadik Yesod Olam who could associate with all Jewish souls.

[edit] The Great Collapse

For years people from all over the country would travel to Meron for the Hillula on Lag b'Omer. In the early 1900's various secular Russian immigrants began settling in the villages surrounding Meron. They too began coming to the Hillula despite their lack of Torah observance. In 1911 a group mixed singles arrived at the Hillula. Right after the lighting of the customary fire, the girls began to loudly and publicly sing Zionistic songs. At that moment a large wind swept the area, suddenly the upper balcony and wall collapsed throwing all the people and stones at the people who filled the courtyard.[11] Ten people were killed and many people were injured. Leading Rabbis quickly pin pointed the reason on the lack of modesty that was occurring at the Hillula and decided to issue a temporary ban on women from visiting Meron on Lag Baomer. Despite the decision, no one had the audacity to publicly declare the ban, until this was done by Rabbi Yisroel Karduner.

[edit] Praises

  • "This man uproars the land and upsets governments" Bas Kol [12]
  • "The supernal holy light that the entire world must welcome his face" Rabbi Abba [13]
  • "I saw the holy torch, the Holy of Holies" Rabbi Abba describing Rebbe Shimon
  • "From the day Rebbe Shimon emerged from the cave, the supernal mysteries were open and revealed amongst the Chavarim as if they were given at that moment from Mount Sinai. After his passing the streams of the depth and the channels of the sky became sealed and the Chavarim whisper the teachings but they would not remain with them" Rebbe Yossi[14]
  • "A place of fire, the flame of Holy One Blessed Be He and the entire entourage of the upper realms are here and all the souls of the Tadikim are there." The Holy Ohr Hachaim when he traveled to Meron[15]
  • "In the future he will be the head to all the tzadikim sitting in Gan Eden." Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai regarding Rabbi Shimon[16]
  • Just like Shabbos is holy to Hashem, so to Rabbi Shimon is holy Shabbos for Hashem. Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai[17]
  • The holy Arizal gave a tikkun to a baal teshuva that each day he should recite five pages from the Zohar.[18]
  • "It says in the verse 'All males should go see the face of the Master Hashem', who is the 'face of the Master Hashem' this is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai." Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yossi [19]
  • "Hashe engraved the form of Rebbe Shimon's face in the Upper Realm." Rabbi Yossi[20]
  • In all generations when people occupy themselves with the holy Zohar, they awaken the power of the souls and the power of the Tzadikim along with the power of Moshe Rabbanu who all participated in the creation of the Zohar and through this they nullify the power of the external forces. The Ramak[21]
  • One who attaches himself to the book of the Zohar gets away from the Sitra Acher and does not need to go through the birth-pangs before the arrival of Moshiach. The Ramchal[22]
  • "Even though a person does not understand the Zohar, just reading the words is auspicious for the soul" The Ramchal[23]
  • "And there was light" this is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai"[24]
  • "The merit of Rebbe Shimon in the Upper Worlds is greater than all the Tzadikim" Rabbi Yackov Abuchatzera [25]
  • "Rebbe, Rebbe, you are the large tree and strong in Torah. In your branches which are holy limbs, many birds dwell there, which are holy souls, representing the Upper worlds as it says "in its branches will dwell the birds of the sky[26]. Many people below will attain sustenance from your work (the Zohar) when it will be revealed below in the final generation, at the end of the days. Because of it "freedom will be decreed in the land"[27]. A melodious voice from the supernal tree[28]
  • The Baal Shem Tov commanded his followers to study a teaching from the Zohar before each prayer[29]
  • "Studying Zohar is higher then all other studies, even if a person does not know what he is saying, and even if he mistakenly reads it wrong. It is a huge rectification for the soul." the Chida [30]
  • "It is know that studying Zohar is very, very auspicious. Know, that through the study of Zohar a person receives desire for sorts of other Torah studies." The holy Tzadik Rabbi Nachman of Breslov [31]

[edit] Teachings

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said "my sons review my attributes"[32] which means "study my teachings"[33]

  • The Jews rejected 3 things during the generation of Rechavam:The Rulership of Hashem, the rulership of the House of Dovid and the Beis Hamikdash[34]
  • All Jews are princes[35]
  • Rabbi Shimon says ; there is nothing at all in the world that stands in the way of Teshuva.[36]

[edit] More Photos

[edit] References

  1. ^ Otzar Hamidrashim Part 2, Page 551
  2. ^ Talmud Bavli Sucah 45B
  3. ^ Rashi Talmud Bavli Sucah 45B
  4. ^ Zohar Chadash Pasrshas Berashis, Page 24A
  5. ^ Zohar Pasrshas HaZinue Page 291A
  6. ^ a b Ahavas Hashem from Rabbi Yosef Sadbon
  7. ^ Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 98A
  8. ^ Zohar Parshas Chayi Sarah 126A
  9. ^ Zohar Introduction 4A
  10. ^ Koheles Rabba Chapter 10:10
  11. ^ Article from HaYerushalmi Newspaper following the incident
  12. ^ End of Idra Zuta
  13. ^ Zohar Parshas Vaeschanan 265B
  14. ^ Zohar Vayechi 26B
  15. ^ Kevod Melachim
  16. ^ Zohar Chadash Parshas Ki Tavo Page 73B
  17. ^ Zohar Parshas Naso Page 144B
  18. ^ Sivchay Hari 51
  19. ^ Zohar Parshas Bo Page 38A
  20. ^ Zohar Parshas Achari Mos Page 61A
  21. ^ Ohr Yakar on Tikunay ohar Volume 1 Page 223
  22. ^ Adir Bamoram Page 22
  23. ^ Derech Eitz Chaim
  24. ^ Midrash brought down in Sefer Hakinuim, Category Ohr
  25. ^ Doresh Tov 72
  26. ^ Daniel 3:9
  27. ^ Vayikra 25
  28. ^ Tikunay Zohar, Tikkun 6 Page 23B
  29. ^ Baal Shem Tov on the Torah, Volume 1, Page 66
  30. ^ Avodas Hakodesh, Moreh Etzba, Section 44
  31. ^ Sichos Haran 108
  32. ^ Talmud Bavli, Gitten 67A
  33. ^ Rashi, Gitten 67A
  34. ^ Rashi Hoshea 3:
  35. ^ Mishna Shabbos 14:4
  36. ^ Medrash Hanelam in Zohar Chadash, Parshas Berashis Page 19
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