The Arizal and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
I’d like to continue with Root Soul collection of our leaders, by the Arizal.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the Arizal
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away on the Sefira of the Hod of Hod, which is very significant, because in terms of the lower Sefirot, it’s the end of the line, meaning his soul comes from the highest place, which can reach down to the lowest place. Which accounts for the 500,000 people who come to visit his grave each year on the date of his passing, and they feel a personal connection to Rabbi Shimon because it’s part of his essence to reach from the highest people to the lowest people, so everyone can feel connected at their soul level.
Another aspect of Rabbi Shimon is that he was the one chosen to reveal mysticism to the whole world, because he could reveal everything, and only those with the ears to hear it would understand it . He had, what the Arizal called, “the surrounding light power,” allowing him to do that. Just say something and only those who can hear it properly will be able to hear it. That’s a significant feature of his classic, The Zohar, is all about.
Rabbi Shimon is understood to have come from the soul root of Moshe, and just like Moshe escaped from Egypt and went into the wilderness, where he stayed for many years and eventually, he came out of the wilderness to redeem the Jewish people, to be their redeemer, their messenger of G-d and to bring them out of Egypt, too.
So too R. Shimon escaped Roman persecution, because he spoke his mind and he was fearless, and he came out to redeem the Jewish people with his master work—the Zohar. He was a complete tsaddik, with nothing to be afraid of, even though the Romans were chasing him because of his fearlessness.
Rabbi Shimon hid in a cave for 13 years, and when he came out he revealed the entire Zohar, just as Moshe came out to his people and the Torah was revealed, at Mount Sinai.
He died with a smile on his face because on his last day, he was able to reveal eternal, limitless Torah. And his soul included everybody, as did Moshe’s. So, on the day of Lag B’Omer, when we go and we meet to think and talk and study about Rabbi Shimon, we can all feel the connection, because we’re all included in his soul.
He was the person who revealed the Zohar, which means Brilliant Light, and it: 1) brought light into the darkness, and 2) will be the vehicle to bring redemption to the whole world, through the power of its consciousness. Rabbi Shimon’s mystical viewpoint in the Zohar, which enhances everything in life. That’s what Kabbalah is all about, and why it has the power to enhance every thought, every word and every purpose in life, especially the inner dimension, and to connect it all with G-d.
That’s Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
Now, the Arizal……The Arizal is the reincarnation of Rabbi Shimon, and also of Moshe. He came from the highest possible levels of soul root, and had the prophet Elijah at his side at all times. There are certain souls that come down into the world, not to fix themselves but to fix up a whole generation of other people. The Arizal came to bring Moshiach into his generation, if it had been worthy. But he was able to teach his main student, Rabbi Chaim Vital.
In a very short lifespan he was able to reveal an incredible amount of wisdom, in quantity and quality. At this time we don’t have access to the majority of his teachings, given during his lifetime. The Arizal came from the beyond, and therefore he was beyond a normal human being. He was: expert in all areas of Torah, skilled in understanding the songs and sounds of birds and animals, and wise in the ways of every person, knowing everything they had done and knowing their thoughts, past present and future.
The Arizal could see the reincarnation of every person. And he could open Torah and read about a person, then that person would manifest before him. He was able to read a person by their scent, and know all they had ever done. And he didn’t achieve anything through magic or Practical Kabbalah, which he taught a strong prohibition against.
He was able to realize so much in his life because he was such a righteous, ascetic, diligent scholar, more so than anyone else in his generation. And he was pure and holy, having come from a higher world, and constantly communicating with Elijah, who taught him secrets, mouth to mouth.
There’s a lot more to say, but that will suffice for right now.
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