Why is he so beloved? Why is it that every year (when there is no coronavirus), half a million people visit his grave? There were many wise men in his generation. What is the secret of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai?
The secret is that he discovered that there is a secret. We are mistaken to think that only the lowest common denominator – something easily understood – brings ratings and popularity. In the end, the masses connect to someone who represents the hidden Torah, the Kabbalah, something deep.
Most of us don’t understand the Torah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at all, but we understand that there is something there, that there is a greater unseen depth to life, and we want to attach ourselves to whatever that is – or at least revere the one who succeeded in finding it.
That’s what we can take away from this day, even without bonfires and going up to Meron – that there are hidden things, that there is a secret behind everything we see. The Torah is deeper than it seems – as are all the people around us and our own souls, too. Infinite worlds are hidden beneath the external and superficial shell that we see at first glance.
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)