Sunday, May 10, 2009

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In Praise of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zt"l alone was given permission to reveal the great mysteries contained in the hidden teachings and to distribute free gifts (Zohar III:124b).

Prior to the great Tanna 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!"

To answer this, Reb Noson of Breslov quotes the verse, "the Tzaddik is lost; yet nobody bothers to note what has happened. People of kindness are taken away; yet no one understands. It because of the evil that approaches, the Tzaddik is lost (Isaiah 57:1)." Our Sages teach that the very great tzaddikim pass away prior to the onset of terrible evil in the world. For them, this is a blessing; so that they should not have to witness the great suffering which Heaven has decreed, so that their eyes should not have to see all the multitude of troubles that is about to befall the Jewish people (Talmud Sandhedrin 113b).

Reb Noson then goes on to explain that the powers of the "Tzaddikim are greater after their passing than when they were alive" (Talmud Berahot 18a). (This is also explained by the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch in Tanya, Iggeret HaKodesh.) If we examine the Tzaddik's main purpose in life, we see that all his efforts are devoted to rectifying the Jews and bringing about goodness, both physical as well as spiritual. Through the Tzaddik comes blessings of abundance of wealth and livelihood, and abundance of Torah and repentance. However, as long as the Tzaddik's soul is housed in a body, he is restricted. This because the body, by definition, is a physical limitation. The Tzaddik is therefore prevented from rising to the greatest heights, and even the abundance which he does bring is governed by this restriction. His influence can only go so far until such a time that his soul is divested of its bodily enclosure.

This is why there is cause for celebration on Lag B'Omer. True, it is the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai left this world. But, Rabbi Shimon is in Shamayim; Rabbi Shimon is spiritual. If during his lifetime he had sufficient merit to keep the world in existence, how much more so now that he is no longer restricted by the physical? His powers can presently reach such incomprehensible heights and levels that the abundance and benefit he can now bring to the world far surpasses whatever had been possible when he was alive.

This is the explanation of the verse, "The Tzaddik is lost...because of the evil that approaches..." The Tzaddik's entire being is devoted to destroying and combating evil. However, his ability to do this is limited by his physical body. Therefore, Hashem removes this Tzaddik from the world prior to the evils coming. This is so that the Tzaddik's body will no longer restrict his efforts to help the Jews. In heaven, he is free to mitigate the harsh decree.

There is simply no din on Lag B'omer, so you can come to the tzion of the tzaddik and ask what you will and receive a free unmerited gift. Very simply you can receive great and awesome yeshuot (salvations) for children and health and livelihood. So do not get distracted by all the people and pushing and noise, just come and close your eyes to all this world and ask that the blessings of Hashem flow in the merit of the tzaddik. I personally guarantee you will see miracles in your life.

This is the true reason for the great celebration on Lag B'Omer. On the 33rd Day of the Omer many, many years ago, Rabbi Shimno bar Yochai's powers to bring help and salvation to all of Am Israel increased manifold. (Likutey Halahkot, Hekhsher Keilim 4)

Looking forward, G-d willing, to seeing you in Meron on Lag B'Omer. If you can't make it, we would be honored to carry your prayer request for you (see our post here).

And Reb Akiva and I will be attempting, with the help and permission of heaven above, to live blog Lag B'Omer from Meron. Check back Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning (Israel time) for live updates, photos, audio clips, and (just maybe) a few short video clips from the tziyon of Rashbi in Meron.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

the rebbe of chabad passed before all the homosexual marriage in the world , all the shmad and apostacy in ther jewish people , the giving of land . He was taken the mashiach before all this craziness approached !

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