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Michael Laitman, PhD

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai [Rashbi]

Dwelling in the Cave

Introduction of The Book of Zohar

187) Rabbi Pinhas, son of Yair, saw two birds coming and flying over the sea. He raised his voice and said, “Birds, birds, since you fly over the sea, have you seen the place where Yochai is?” He waited a little, then said, “Birds, birds, go and tell me.” They flew away into the sea and departed.

Rabbi Shimon fled from the kingship, which ordered that he should be killed. He and his son hid in a cave, and they did not know his whereabouts. This is why Rabbi Pinhas, son of Yair, went to look for him in the islands of the sea.

188) Before he went out to the ship, the birds came and one of them held a letter in her beak. It said, “Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai has come out of the cave with his son, Rabbi Elazar.” Rabbi Pinhas went to him and found that he had changed. His body was filled with holes and sores from sitting in the cave. He wept with him and said, “Woe that I have seen you so.” Rabbi Shimon told him, “Happy I am that you have seen me so, for had you not seen me so, I would not be so.”

...For all the years that he had to dwell in a cave, he had to sit there inside the sand to cover his nakedness and engage in Torah, and his flesh rusted because of it. He wept over him and said, “Woe unto me that I have seen you so.” Rabbi Shimon told him, “Happy I am that you have seen me so, for had you not seen me so, I would not be so,” meaning I would not have been rewarded with the revelations of the secrets of the Torah, for he was awarded all the great sublimity of his wisdom during those 13 years of hiding in the cave.

Owner of the Candles

Yitro [Jethro]

411) “For this is your life.” One who is rewarded with the Torah and does not part from it is rewarded with two lives: one in this world and one in the next world. It is written, “Your life” in plural form [in Hebrew], which are two. Anyone who parts from it, it is as though he parted from life. And one who parts from Rabbi Shimon, it is as though he parted from everything.

412) ...Woe unto a generation from which Rabbi Shimon departs, since when we stand before Rabbi Shimon, the fountains of the heart open to all directions and everything becomes revealed. And when we part from him, we know nothing and all the fountains close.

413) It is written, “And He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders.” It is like that candle from which several candles are lit, while it remains whole, with nothing subtracted from it due to the lighting of candles from it. So is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, owner of the candles: he shines for all and the light does not depart from him, and he remains complete.

The Book of Zohar—Noah’s ark

BeHaalotcha [When You Mount the Candles]

88) “And the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament” are the authors of the Kabbalah. They are the ones who exert in this brightness, called The Book of Zohar, which is like Noah’s ark, gathering two from a town, and seven kingdoms, and sometimes one from a town and two from a family, in whom the words, “Every son that is born you shall cast into the river” come true. The Torah is called “a son.” The newborn is the attained. “Into the river” means the light of Torah. “Cast” is like “You will study it” [it’s an anagram in Hebrew], where you study each insight that is born in you by the light of Torah and by its soul. This is the light of this Book of Zohar, and it is all because of you.

The Creator Sentences and the Righteous Revokes

VaYikra [The Lord Called]

240) There was no decree that was sentenced on the world from above that Rabbi Shimon did not revoke, as it is written, “The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘Ruler over men shall be the righteous; a righteous rules the fear of God.’” The Creator rules over man. Who rules over the Creator? The righteous rules, for the Creator sentences and the righteous revokes.

241) Such was Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai. One day he was sitting at the door of the gate to the city of Lod. He raised his eyes and saw that the sun was shining. He blocked its light three times. Thus, the light was darkened and black and green were seen in the sun. He said to Rabbi Elazar, his son, “Follow me, my son, and we will see; a decree must have been declared above and the Creator wishes to inform me.” Indeed, that thing which was sentenced hangs above for thirty days and the Creator does not act before He alerts the righteous, as it is written, “For the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveals His counsel unto His servants the prophets.”

242) While they were walking in that vineyard, they saw a serpent that came with its mouth open, blazing in the dust of the earth. Rabbi Shimon was disturbed and his hands struck the serpent’s head. The serpent went silent and lowered its mouth, and Rabbi Shimon saw its tongue dangling. He told it, “Serpent, serpent, go and tell that high serpent, which incites and slanders, that Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai is in the world.” The serpent put its head into a hole in the ground and Rabbi Shimon said, “I declare that as the lower serpent returned to the hole in the ground, the upper serpent will return to the hole of the great deep.”

243) Rabbi Shimon whispered a prayer. While they were praying, they heard a voice saying, “The sentences have ceased; return to your places. The strikes of the saboteurs are gone from the world because Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai cancelled them. Happy are you Rabbi Shimon that your Master wishes for your best more than for all the people in the world.” It is written about Moses, “And Moses besought,” meaning that he was sickened [in Hebrew, “besought” can also mean “be sick”]. But you, Rabbi Shimon, sentence, and the Creator keeps; He sentences and you revoke.

244) In the meantime, he saw that the sun had shone and that black was removed. Rabbi Shimon said, “It must be that the world has been perfumed.” He went into his house and interpreted, “For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright shall behold His face.” What is “His face”? “For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness” because “The upright shall behold His face,” meaning the high faces of the people of the world, for they need to ask of the Creator for mercy for everything they need.

245) What is, “The upright shall behold His face”? These are the ancient days, the Sefirot of Atik, the hidden of all that are hidden, the Keter. And the days of the world are the Sefirot of ZA, which are called “His face.” They see each other in an upright way what they should see, meaning the Panim [face] of ZA sees the Panim of Atik, and the Panim of Atik sees the Panim of ZA in an upright way, without turning right or left.

246) When the Creator watches over the world and sees that the acts of people below are upright, Atik, which is Keter, appears in ZA, Tifferet, and all those Panim of ZA look at the hidden Panim of Atik. Then, all are blessed because they look at each other in an upright way, in the middle line, which leans neither to the right nor to the left. It is written about that, “The upright shall behold His face,” meaning that the faces of Atik and ZA look at each other in an upright way, in the middle line. And then they are all blessed and water each other until all the worlds are blessed and all the worlds are as one. At that time, it is considered that “The Lord is one and His name One.”

Beginning of the Idra Zuta

Haazinu [Give Ear]

26) Rabbi Shimon said, “It is a good time now and I would like to come to the next world without shame. Thus, I wish to disclose before Divinity sacred things that I have not disclosed thus far, lest it will be said that I departed from the world deficient. Thus far, they have been hidden in my heart to enter with them into the next world.

27) “This is how I am arranging you: Rabbi Aba will write, Rabbi Elazar will learn orally, and the rest of the friends will speak in their hearts.” Rabbi Aba rose behind his shoulders. Rabbi Elazar, his son, sat before him and Rabbi Shimon told him, “Arise, my son, for another will sit in this place.” Rabbi Elazar arose.

28) Rabbi Shimon cloaked in his garment and sat. He started and said, “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down to Dumah.” Indeed, “The dead do not praise the Lord,” for they are called “dead,” since the Creator is called “living,” and He is among those who are called “living,” the righteous ones, and not among those who are called “dead,” the wicked ones. And the end of the verse proves, as it is written, “Nor do any who go down to Dumah,” meaning all those who go down to Angel Dumah, who will remain in Hell. But not so are those who are called “living.” They are the righteous ones and the Creator wants to honor...

31) Rabbi Shimon started and said, “I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.” all the days that I have been tied to this world, I have been tied to the Creator with one knot. For this reason, now, “And his desire is for me,” for He and all His camp have come to joyfully hear hidden words and the praise of Holy Atik, the most hidden of all that are hidden, the most secluded and separated from all. But he is not separated, for everything clings to him and he clings to everything; he is everything.

The Departure of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Idra Zuta, Haazinu [Give Ear]

196) Rabbi Aba said, “The Holy Light did not complete saying life before his words abated. And I wrote, and thought that I would write some more, but I did not hear. I did not raise my head, for the light was great and I could not look. In the meantime, I was shaken; I heard a voice calling and saying, ‘Length of days and years of life.’ Then I heard another voice, ‘He asked life of You.’”

197) The whole of that day, the fire did not stop from the house, but there was none to reach him. They could not, since the light and the fire surrounded him. That whole day, I was fallen on the earth and cried bitterly. Once the fire went, I saw the Holy Light, the holy of holies, departed from the world, cloaked and lying on his right side, and his face was smiling.

198) Rabbi Elazar, his son, arose, took his hands, and kissed them. And I licked the dust under his feet. The friends wished to cry but could not speak. The friends began to cry, and Rabbi Elazar, his son, fell three times and could not open his mouth. Afterwards, he started and said, “My father, my father, they were three and they have become one again.” That is, there were three great ones in the land—Rabbi Elazar, his father, Rashbi, and his grandfather, Rabbi Pinhas, son of Yair—and now Rabbi Elazar remained orphaned from is grandfather and from his father, Rashbi. He remained alone in the world. Now that this great tree has left. Under it, the animals of the field would stroll, in its branches, the birds of the sky would dwell, and nourishments for all were in it. Now the animals migrated and the birds of the trees that sat on its branches settle in the holes of the great sea. And the friends, instead of the nourishment that they received from it, they drink blood.

199) Rabbi Hiya rose to his feet and said, “Thus far the Holy Light was watching over us. Now it is the time to toil only for his glory.”

Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba rose and took him from his place onto a bed that was made as a ladder, to raise him to his bed. Who saw the confusion of the friends? And the whole house was smelling of good fragrances. They raised him to his bed and only Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba served him.

200) Strikers and men with shields came from the village Tzippori, and wished to bury him in their place. They came to take him by force and by war. The children of Meron drove them away and yelled at them in hordes, for they did not want him buried there, but that he would be buried in their place. When the bed was out of the house, it rose in the air and fire was flaming before it. They heard a voice, “Come in, come and gather for the celebration of Rabbi Shimon, may peace come and they will rest in peace.”

201) When he entered the cave they heard a voice inside the cave. That man was quaking the land, irritating from Malchut, several slanderers in the firmament are quieted on this day for you. This is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose Master praises every day. Happy is he above and below. Several high treasures are kept for him. It was said about him, “And you, go to the end and rest and rise again for your fate at the end of the right.”

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