Tuesday, May 08, 2012

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The Kedusha of Lag B’Omer

from Lma’an Yishme’u

On the day that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai was preparing to leave this world, he told his son Reb Elozar and the talmidim who were gathered around him, "This is an auspicious time. I am now going to reveal holy secrets that I have never yet disclosed, so that I will arrive in Olam HaBa without reason for embarrassment. I see that today is a distinctive day, for HaShem and all the tzaddikim are rejoicing in my celebration (hillula)."

He instructed his talmid Rebbi Abba to write down what he was about to say, Rebbi Elozor to repeat it, and the other talmidim to listen carefully. He then revealed to them the section of Zohar known as Idra Zuta. At that time, the kedusha of Rebbi Shimon was so intense that none of the talmidim were able to gaze upon him, and throughout the day, a fire surrounded the house, keeping everyone else at an awed distance.

Rebbi Abba recalled: "While I was in midst of writing, and Rebbi Shimon was in the middle of quoting a possuk, he stopped at the word 'Chaim'. I waited, wanting to continue, but did not raise my head to see why he had stopped, for I was unable to look at the bright light that he radiated. Suddenly, I heard a voice call out a possuk that inlcluded the word 'Chaim', and then another voice called out another possuk. I fell to the ground and wept. When the fire subsided and the light faded away, I saw that the great luminary, Rebbi Shimon, had passed away. He was lying on his right side, with a smile on his face."

Soon afterwards, residents of nearby Tzipori came to take Rashbi to bury him in their village, but the inhabitants of Meron sent them away. Meanwhile the bed, now outside the house, raised itself in the air, while a fire burned in front of it. A voice rang out, "Come and gather for the hillula of Rebbi Shimon!" When they entered the cave in which he would be buried, another voice was heard, coming from within: "This man shakes up the world and all its kingdoms; many adversaries in Shamayim are silenced because of his merit; HaShem glories in him daily. Fortunate is his portion, both Above and below!"

(זהר ח"ג דף רצ"א ע"ב, רצ"ו ע"ב)

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