Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, lived over 1800 years ago. Teachings in his name abound throughout the Mishnah, Gemorrah, and Midrashim, while the Zohar, the primary source text of Kabbalah, is built around Rabbi Shimon’s revelations to his inner circle of disciples. During the hours before his passing, on Lag b’Omer, he disclosed the “most sublime” secrets of Torah (see quote below), in order to ensure that the day would always be an occasion for great joy, untouched by sadness because of the Omer period and mourning for him. The seminal importance of the Zohar in Jewish thought and the annual pilgrimage to Meron on Lag b”omer are testimonies to his success.
Praises of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
Every woman who gives birth to a son should pray that he grows up to be like Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
Bar Yochai is accustomed to miracles (happening for him).
Throughout his lifetime, a rainbow (which signifies that the world deserves punishment) was never seen.
“In a single bond I am bound with G-d, united with Him, aflame,…”
During a severe drought, a delegation came and requested him to pray for rain. He started to lecture on the verse “Hinei mah tov…” (“How good and pleasant when brothers sit together…” – Ps. 133). Immediately, rain began to fall.
“This day (his last–Lag b’Omer) I have revealed holy secrets never before revealed…I see that G-d and all the righteous in Heaven agree to this…and all of them are rejoicing in my (time of) joy.”
“With this book (Zohar) of yours, the Jewish People will be redeemed from exile with mercy.”