web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Kidz
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



The Story of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai


Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

Share Button

Lag B’Omer is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai. Thousands visit his grave in Meron to pay homage to this tzaddik and leader in Israel.

Rabi Shimon was well-known as a man who performed miracles. As a disciple of the great Rabi Akiva, he carried on the tradition of Torah. In his earlier years, Rabi Shimon and his father advocated cooperating with the Roman government. They did not participate in the revolt of Bar Kochba and they adhered to the policy of Rabi Yehoshua, who was opposed to the use of force.

However, following the revolt, the Roman government began a vicious campaign against the Jews, making every effort to annihilate them and to prohibit them from practicing their religion. When they murdered Rabi Akiva, Rabi Shimon turned bitterly against them.

Two years following Rabi Akiva’s death (126 C.E.), the Sages of Israel gathered in the garden of Yavneh to discuss the decrees of the Romans. Among the sages were Rabi Yehuda ben Ilai, Rabi Yosi and Rabi Shimon bar Yochai. Seated within the group was Yehuda ben Geirim.

Rabi Yehuda opened the conference by lauding the greatness of the Roman empire. “Look how beautiful are the deeds of the Romans,” he said. “They build market places, bridges and bath houses.”

Rabi Yosi remained silent. But Rabi Shimon bar Yochai vehemently denounced this. “What they have built was for their own selfish purposes,” he exclaimed. “They created market places and bath houses for immodest socialization and the bridges so as to charge tolls.”

Rabi Shimon Condemned To death

Yehuda ben Geirim repeated this conversation to some important officials and it soon reached the ears of the Roman government. A decree was immediately issued honoring Rabi Yehuda for his kind words on behalf of the government. Rabi Yosi, who remained silent, was sent into exile and Rabi Shimon, who dared to talk against the government, was condemned to death.

Rabi Shimon and his son hid in the beis medrash. Every day his wife brought food to his hiding place. When the government began to seek him out, Rabi Shimon decided not to jeopardize his wife, who would be tortured into revealing his hiding place. So, he and his son escaped out of town and hid in a cave.

A miracle occurred in the cave. A stream of water bubbled forth and a carob tree began to grow. The fruit of the tree sustained them while they learned Torah together. During the day, they removed their clothes and sat in the sand up to their necks. When it came time to daven, they put on their clothes and afterwards removed them. In this way they managed to preserve their clothes.

For 12 years they remained in the cave until one day, Eliyahu HaNavi came to the entrance of the cave and exclaimed, “Know you that the Roman king has died and all of his decrees have become void.”

They went out of the cave and saw people ploughing and tilling their lands. “Look,” they exclaimed, “these fools leave aside the true world and occupy themselves with the foolishness of this world.” They cast an evil spell upon them and the men died.

They Return To The Cave

A voice rang out from heaven. “Return to your cave. I did not allow you to leave to destroy My world.”

They returned to the cave and remained there for another 12 months. At the end of that time they prayed to G-d. “The punishment for evil-doers in Gehinom is 12 months; why must we suffer more?” Then G-d commanded them to leave the cave.

It was erev Shabbos, and as they were coming home, they saw a man running with two myrtle branches.

“Why do you carry two branches?” they asked.

“In honor of Shabbos,” was the answer.

“Wouldn’t one branch have been sufficient?”

One branch represents the commandment of Zachor, Remember Shabbos, and the other branch represents the commandment, Shamor, Observe the commandment,” he answered.

“See how our people love the mitzvos of the Torah!” said Rabi Shimon to his son. The two were then filled with contentment.

Rabi Pinchus ben Ya’ir, son-in-law of Rabi Shimon, heard of their arrival and rushed to greet them. He bathed them and administered to them. Seeing the sores on Rabi Shimon’s skin, tears streamed from his eyes.

“Woe is to me that I see you in such a state,” he cried out.

“On the contrary,” answered Rabi Shimon, “happy are you that you see me thus, for if I were not in such a state you would not have found me so learned.”

Originally, when Rabi Shimon raised a question, Rabi Pinchus would give him 13 answers, whereas now when Rabi Pinchus raised a question, Rabi Shimon bar Yochai would give him 24 answers.

Rabi Shimon went out into the street and saw Rabi Yehuda ben Geirim “This man is still in the world!” he exclaimed. He cast his eye upon him and turned him into a heap of bones.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “The Story of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Kidz Stories
Tales of the Gaonim-logo

“The mitzvah of drawing water for the baking of the matzah for the Seder comes only once a year. I do not care to share it with a horse.’’

Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

“You speak foolishly, daughter, how is it possible for a man who has not eaten for 10 years to live?”

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

With enthusiasm, zemiros that had been purposefully collected for the evening were chanted.

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

Bnei Yisrael marched out of Mitzrayim with a mighty hand under their great leader Moshe. This was not, however, their first attempt to escape from Mitzrayim and return to the land that G-d had promised their fathers.

Rabi Pinchas’ piety and honesty were known far and wide. He would often say, “Even though our Sages (Yevamot 65b) declared that to preserve the peace, a person may change his words to fit the situation, I will never utter a false word regardless of the consequences.” If he heard that one of his followers had uttered a false word, he would expel him from his presence.

When Bnei Yisrael returned to their homeland they were a poor and weak group of people. Because of the great number of enemies and wild animals that had inhabited the land during their exile, they huddled together in a few areas, like Yerushalayim, in order to find protection.

But not everyone is destined to taste of the fruit of this world and to enjoy its vintage. Among the inhabitants of this town lived a poor man, Nachumka.

In the midst of his merrymaking, the king ordered his servants to bring out the golden vessels that were taken from the Beit HaMikdash by his father Nevuchadnezzar. The king and his men drank from them and praised the gods of gold and silver.

The Jewish people are hardly strangers to persecution and tyranny. When we hear of the complaints of other peoples, we smile bitterly and wonder: What do they know of persecution? What do they know of tragedy and bitterness? We are a people who have experienced oppression for centuries and have drunk deeply of the bitter cup of woe.

Although Daniel was the chief minister in Bavel, he could not eradicate the custom practiced in many provinces of worshipping idols. In the capital city there was a statue of Baal and more and more people began to worship it. Even the king was beginning to believe in its power.

There was once a tzaddik from Poland, Reb Velveli, who decided to settle in Eretz Yisrael. The land was poor and inhabited by very few people, but he and his wife had such love for the land that they were willing to suffer privation and hunger just to be one of its citizens.

Through the influence of Daniel, one of Nevuchadnezar’s ministers, his three companions, Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah were appointed as governors over various provinces in Bavel.

The stories concerning Rav Naftali of Ropshitz are quite numerous and reveal his sharp biting wit. Rav Naftali was often persecuted and sneered at by misnagdim but the sharp mind with which he was blessed always served him in good stead in finding proper answers.

In the third year of the reign of Yehoyakim, melech Yehuda, Nevuchadnezzar, melech Bavel, lay siege to Yerushalayim and conquered it. He took many treasures from the Beis HaMikdash back with him to the land of Shinar.

Reb Moshe Chaim Ephraim, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, was a deeply learned man who took his sources and admonitions from the Torah.

In the city of Antioch there lived a man of remarkable generosity by the name of Aba Yehudah. He was a man who gave to all, whenever there was a need. Rabi Yehoshua and several other rabbanim arrived in the city one day on an urgent mission to collect money for the unfortunate needy. They knew that Aba Yehudah always gave a generous contribution so they looked forward to seeing him.

More Articles from Rabbi Sholom Klass
Tales of the Gaonim-logo

“The mitzvah of drawing water for the baking of the matzah for the Seder comes only once a year. I do not care to share it with a horse.’’

Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

“You speak foolishly, daughter, how is it possible for a man who has not eaten for 10 years to live?”

With enthusiasm, zemiros that had been purposefully collected for the evening were chanted.

Bnei Yisrael marched out of Mitzrayim with a mighty hand under their great leader Moshe. This was not, however, their first attempt to escape from Mitzrayim and return to the land that G-d had promised their fathers.

Rabi Pinchas’ piety and honesty were known far and wide. He would often say, “Even though our Sages (Yevamot 65b) declared that to preserve the peace, a person may change his words to fit the situation, I will never utter a false word regardless of the consequences.” If he heard that one of his followers had uttered a false word, he would expel him from his presence.

When Bnei Yisrael returned to their homeland they were a poor and weak group of people. Because of the great number of enemies and wild animals that had inhabited the land during their exile, they huddled together in a few areas, like Yerushalayim, in order to find protection.

But not everyone is destined to taste of the fruit of this world and to enjoy its vintage. Among the inhabitants of this town lived a poor man, Nachumka.

In the midst of his merrymaking, the king ordered his servants to bring out the golden vessels that were taken from the Beit HaMikdash by his father Nevuchadnezzar. The king and his men drank from them and praised the gods of gold and silver.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/the-story-of-rabi-shimon-bar-yochai/2012/05/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: