The deeper meaning of L’aG B’Omer and the power of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to hasten the geulah (redemption). Speaker: Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld z”l. (Recorded 1973-05-19.) Word for word transcript follows:
The hilula (commemoration) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, zchoto yagen aleynu v’al kol Yisrael, (may his merit protect us and all of Israel). The main highlight of the hilula is, Rabbi Natan z”l says, to speak words about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l and especially words that R’ Shimon bar Yochai z”l himself said.
We know that Rabbeinu z”l, Rebbe Nachman ben Simcha z”l, is begamtria Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l. That means there is not just a direct connection, but an actual oneness between both.
And in these words, the hakdama, the preface to Rabbeinu z”l‘s sefer, the Likutey Moharan, we see this brought out very clearly.
Rabbeinu z”l says that any person, no matter how simple and ordinary, who studies a sefer kadosh carefully (a holy book), delves into it, can find extraordinary chiddushim (innovations).
And so tonight, in these words, I believe we have found new light in the words of Rabbeinu z”l.
Rabbeinu z”l begins, “Lechu, chazu mifalot Hashem…” “Come and see the deeds of Hashem” — the actions of Hashem. “Hitgalut nifla…” – a marvelous revelation, a sohd… the secret of the greatness of the heavenly Tanna, the heavenly Rabbi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l.
This is the way Rabbeinu z”l begins. Rabbeinu z”l is about to reveal the secret of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l‘s greatness.
The first question is: why does Rabbeinu z”l begin with these words, “L’chu chazu” – “Come and see the actions of Hashem”? What does this got to do with the actions of Hashem?
Now, this is a possuk in Tehillim (Psalms 46:9). “Lechu chazu mifalot Hashem asher sahm shamot ba’aretz.” “Come and see the actions of Hashem Who has made destruction in the Land.” …asks, how can we say “the actions of Hashem who made destruction?” The word “Hashem”, this Name of Hashem, is Hashem of chesed and kindness. It’s not the word that’s used for vengeance or din (severe judgment). Therefore, the Gemara says, we must change the word “shamot” to “shemot” — “Hashem Who made names in this world.”
Every item that exists has a name. Every person has a name. Hashem placed these names upon these people. How? Before a person is born, the parents discuss what to call that child. And the Gemara says now “Hashem sahm shemot” – “Hashem places a name” in the minds of these parents to call that child this name. Why? Because the name of that person is going to characterize the nature, the characteristics of that person. And this, we know, is a “kol sh’keyn” (how much more so”). Rabbeinu z”l says that one who knows, one who understands kabbalah, can see in the one word “Adam” — “person” — every single person in the entire world, if he understands that one word, “Adam”.
So kol sh’keyn (how much more so) surely that in a person’s name there can surely be found the truth about the nature and character of that person. And therefore, Rabbeinu z”l brings this possuk, to tell us that “Come and see the marvels of Hashem“. That here we have a name, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, and how in this name we will find the marvel, the unusual characteristics of the kedusha (holiness) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l.
But “L’chu chazu…” — “Come and see. Know.” That you can ask… this name is very common. There are thousands of people, of Jews with the name “Shimon” also. The answer, Rabbeinu z”l says, is that a person is given a name and Hashem knows the future, but a person is not guided, or impelled by his mazal (destiny). The smallest person, with the worst mazal, through his own bechira, his own free choice, can become the biggest tzaddik. And this is the case of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, who rose to such a great stature.
Now Rabbeinu z”l explains, he continues: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l promised, assured, he guaranteed, that the Torah will never be forgotten from the Jews. How? Through him.
Through his guarantee, through his assistance. The Gemara brings (Shabbat) there’s a machloket, a debate between the rabbis and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l. The rabbis say there’ll come a time when chas v’shalom (may we be preserved) that the Torah will be forgotten. There will come that time — a very dark moment. There will be no more Torah. Than moment will be a moment of darkness.
But Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l says “That darkness will never come, chas v’shalom. The Torah will never be forgotten. Why? Because of the possuk…”ki lo shekhacht mipi zaro…”
“The Torah will never be forgotten from the Children of Israel.” But in that possuk “…will never be forgotten from His children…” the last letters of those words are “Yochai” which means:
“Because of his child.” Whose? Rabbi Yochai’s child. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l. Therefore the Torah will never be forgotten. Why? Through the Zohar HaKadosh, which Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l wrote, this will bring the geulah for the Jews.
The word “Zohar” is “light”. The Zohar HaKadosh says “Im lo briti…” — “If not for the Torah, this entire world, the entire universe, the heaven and earth, would be destroyed. There must be a Torah, otherwise there is no creation. The moment the Torah stops, chas v’shalom, everything disappears. So if there’d come a time when there’d be no Torah, it would be forgotten, that means this is the end of all creation.
“Bereishith bara Elokim” — “In the beginning, Hashem created…” Bereishith is the letters Alef, Taf, Reish, Shin, Beit, Yud. That means “Ohr Torah“. The Torah – light of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l is what bara – continually creates now, keeps this creation in being, of the heavens and the earth. Through the light of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l‘s Torah. Which light is that? That’s the light of the Zohar.
Now Rabbeinu z”l says that the word shikhah — shikhah means to forget. Shikhah is synonymous, it means the same as “death”, the same as “darkness” and the same as “galut” (exile). In contrary the word zikharon — memory — to remember — is the same as “light” and the same as “geulah” (redemption). And therefore, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l said, “The Torah will never be forgotten. It will be remembered. Why? Because the Zohar HaKadosh, HaZohar is the opposite of shikhah. Shikhah is the letters HaChoshekh (the darkness) – that’s forgetfulness.
HaZohar is the light, the opposite, which means remembrance. And just as darkness means galut, so does HaZohar, the light, means geulah. So through this light of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l‘s Torah, the Jews will come out of galut (exile) and be zocheh to the geulah (will merit redemption).
Rabbeinu z”l adds, though: “VeDaah…” “And know…that what we said until now was a remez, a hint, of the son of Rabbi Yochai z”l, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l. There is also a possuk in which there is hinted at Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai himself. “Daah, ki …. Ihr vekadish ben…” There’s a possuk in Daniel which says, “Ihr” means malakh, or one who is constantly awake, and “kadish” — “Descended from heaven.” The first letters of these words are Rabbi Shimon.
So in this sentence, Rabbeinu z”l says, we find the roshei teyvot, first letters, symbolizing the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l.
Now, what is the connection of this statement with what we said before? Why does Rabbeinu z”l bring, seemingly out of the clear blue, a possuk, true, the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l is the first letters, the roshei teyvot. But what is the connection here? If we study that carefully we find something extremely amazing. The word here, “awake” means “alive”. Constantly alive.
A tzaddik emet (truly righteous person) never dies. He’s always alive. Even when he passes away, he continues to live. A tzaddik after his death is called “chai“, alive. Kadish (holy) “min shemaya…” — “came down from heaven.” To come down from heaven you must first go up to heaven.
We find that there is a possuk similar to this, these words, “Who went up to heaven and came down?” This was Moshe Rabeynu. And he came down with the luchot (the two tablets) and he brought the Torah to the Jews. Now we find that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l is mentioned in the Zohar HaKadosh as having reached the level of Moshe Rabeynu. Which level? The level of Moshe Rabeynu coming down the second time with the second tablets.
The first tablets were broken. They did not remain for the Jews. That’s like shikhah (forgetfulness). The second tablets which remained, which the Jews have, and will continue to have, that madreyga (level) Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l reached. So Rabbeinu z”l says, “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, Ihr vekadish beshemaya nachin” – he descended from heaven, the same as Moshe Rabbeinu. He brought with him his Matan Torah (gift of the Torah), his giving of the Torah, the Zohar HaKadosh, is one that shall always remain. The same madreyga (level) as Moshe Rabbeinu.
Now we understand, too, Rabbeinu z”l finishes with these words, “VeAchshav…” — “And now.” And now, “Nachal noveya makor chokhma“. “The” is added to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, “veAchshav” — now when the time, the moment of geulah is here. What is this addition? This is the vital combination of Torah and tefilah (prayer). Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l we said is the symbol of Torah. Through him we still have a Torah and we will always have it.
Rabbeinu z”l adds to this, that with Torah alone, today we cannot get to the geulah. Because a person can study Torah and learn Torah and find too many barriers and too many objections, too many difficulties in trying to fulfill the mitzvot of the Torah. There is so much opposition, so much hatred against religion, against ones who want to be religious, against ones who want to fulfill the Torah, that a person today, with the knowledge of Torah alone, can be so oppressed, actually crushed, chas v’shalom.
Rabbeinu z”l says there’s one thing he must do. He himself is incapable of carrying out these mitzvot. He must resort to the key, which is tefilah (prayer). Tefilah – prayer – and hitbodeduth (personal prayer in one’s own words). Through this a person can then bring on the help, the assistance from Heaven.
Rabbeinu z”l‘s key was tefilah (prayer). And we see now this hitgalut, this revelation. Because Rabbeinu z”l said that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l was as great as Moshe Rabbeinu. Rabbeinu z”l too is b’gematria Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l, and therefore also in the category of Moshe Rabbeinu. We need this combination of both, Torah and tefilah, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l and Rabbeinu z”l because the Zohar HaKadosh says that Moshe Rabbeinu and Yosef HaTzaddik and David HaMelech were nistalek (passed away) on Shabbat. That means they rose up to Heaven on Shabbat. This elevation, Shabbat is the symbol of “Yom shekulo Shabbat” – the geulah (redemption).
Biyas HaMoshiach (the arrival of Moshiach) the new world when Moshiach comes. When can we have Moshiach? When we have the combination of these three. The Zohar HaKadosh says, why these three? This is all hidden in the letter “Alef“. The letter Alef is a “Vuv” and two “Yuds“, one on each side. This comprises the letter Alef. The Vuv stands for the third letter of Hashem’s Name which is Zer Anpin which is Moshe Rabbeinu. The Vuv is six, the two Yuds are twenty. Together it’s Hashem’s Name this Alef: 26. This stands for the future. The geulah. The Vuv is Moshe Rabeynu, and the two Yuds are the two Moshiachs who will come with Moshe Rabbeinu: Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Yosef.
So we have this combination of Moshe Rabbeinu and David and Yosef. These three combined, the Zohar HaKadosh says, are begamtria “tefilah” — prayer. When you have these three, then you have tefilah. Therefore Rabbeinu z”l, too, this will bring about the geulah. Rabbeinu z”l‘s name is kollel, begamtria, these three: Moshe Rabbeinu, Yosef HaTzaddik, and David HaMelech. Rabbeinu z”l begamtria is tefilah with the kollel.
Therefore, Rabbeinu z”l said, “Now” — “Nachal Noveah Makor Chokhmah” — this is the bechina of Moshe Rabbeinu, together with the two Moshiachs, with this…with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l‘s Zohar HaKadosh and Rabbeinu z”l‘s stressing the mitzvah of tefilah, combining these two, we are certain that in their zechut, befrat (especially) now, the night of L’aG B’Omer, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai z”l‘s hilula, and this means the hilula of Rabbeinu z”l too, this combination, because both are “chai” (alive). Both were nistalek (passed away) on the 18th day of the month and “chai” – both are alive. In the combination of both zechuyot, we are certain that we are zocheh now to see the geulah sheleyma b’emet (complete, true redemption) and beviyat Moshiach tzidkeynu (the arrival of the righteous Moshiach) Omen.