Monday, 1 June 2009

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Below is the key source for a shiur taught at New London Synagogue.
The plan is to upload the recording of the shiur, but technology is defeating me at the moment. Once I get a URL it will be posted on this blog. Please contact me on rabbi[at] if you want a that link by e-mail.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Bavli Shabbat 33a-b - Yerushalmi Shekalim 9:1


Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yosi and Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai were sitting and Yehuda ben Gerim was sitting beside them.

•           Rabbi Yehudah opened and said, ‘How pleasant are the works of this people?

o          They have made [tikkun] streets,

o          They have built [tikkun] bridges,

o          They have erected [tikkun] baths.’

•           Rabbi Yosi was silent.

•           Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai answered and said, ‘All that they made they made for themselves;

o          They built market-places, to place prostitutes there

o          Baths, to pamper themselves;

o          Bridges, to take tolls.’

Now, Yehuda ben Gerim went and retold their words and it became known to the governors. They said;

•           Yehuda who exalted, shall be exalted

•           Yose who was silent shall be exiled to Sepphoris

•           Shimon, who censured, let him be executed.


He went with his son went and hid themselves in the Beth Hamidrash.

His wife brought him bread and a mug of water and they ate.

When the decree became more severe be said to his son, Women are of unstable temperament: They may abuse metsari her and expose us

They went and hid in a cave. A miracle happened and a carob-tree and a water-spring were created for them.

They said up to their necks in sand.

By day they sat and studied, and they took off their clothes. When the time came to pray they went out and dressed and covered and went out and prayed and again took off their clothes in order that they not wear out.

They dwelled in a cave for 13 years.

•           Elijah came to the opening of the cave. He said, ‘Who will inform Bar Yohai that the Emperor died and the decree is annulled?’

They went out and they saw men ploughing and sowing.

They said, they forsake life of the world hayei olam and busy themselves with the life of a moment.

Everywhere they turned their eyes was immediately burnt.

•           A heavenly voice went out and said to them, ‘Did you go out to destroy my world? Return to your cave.’

They dwelled for there twelve months.

They said, ‘The sentence of the wicked in Gehinom is twelve months

A heavenly voice went out and said ‘Go out from your cave.’ They went out.

Whatever Elazar [the son] destroyed the Shimon [the father] healed.

He said, ‘My son, you and I are sufficient for the world.’


On Shabbat eve they saw an old man holding two bundles of myrtle and running at twilight. What are these for?’ they asked him. ‘They are in honour of the Sabbath,’ he replied. ‘But one would be enough’?-‘One is for “Remember” and one for “Observe.”’

Said he to his son, ‘See how precious are the commandments to Israel!’

Their minds were set at ease.


Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair, his son in law went out to meet him.

He took him into the baths and was massaging his flesh.

Seeing the clefts in his body he wept and the tears streamed from his eyes hurting him [metstari]. ‘Woe to me that I see you in such a state!’

Shimon cried out. ‘Happy are you that you see me this way,’ he retorted, ‘for if you did not see me in such a state you would not find me this way.

For originally, when Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai gave a question, Rabbi Pinhas raised thirteen difficulties. Now when Rabbi Pinhas raised a difficulty Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochia would give him twenty-four answers.


He said, ‘Since a miracle has occurred let me go and amend [taken] something, for it is written, and Jacob came whole [shalem] (Gen 33) and Rav interpreted.

o          Bodily whole

o          financially whole,

o          and whole in his learning.

And he was gracious to the city (Gen 33 cont’d) 

o          Rav said: He established [taken] coinage for them

o          Samuel said: He established markets for them

o          Rabbi Yochanan said: He established baths for them.

Is there anything which requires fixing? [takken]

He was told there is a place of doubtful uncleanness and it causes priests trouble [tsara] to go round it


He took lupins and sliced and scattered them and wherever there was a corpse it would float and rise to the surface.

A Samaritan seeing him said, let me go and ridicule this Jewish sage.

He took a corpse, went buried it in a place that he had purified.

He then came to Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai and said to him, ‘Have you not purified that place, nonetheless I can produce a corpse for you from here.’

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, perceiving through the holy spirit that he had placed one there said, ‘I decree that those above shall descend [the Samaritan] and that those below [the corpse] shall rise.

And so it happened.


He went out to the market and saw Yehuda ben Gerim. ‘Is this one still in the world?’ he set his eyes on him and made him a heap of bones.’

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