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Attaching to the Soul of Rav Shimon

Topic: Master Kabbalists & Their Writings | Posted:April 30, 2014

The beginning of the portion Emor discusses specific laws regarding the kohenim, the priests; namely, about which funerals they are allowed to go to. But what does that have to do with us, and more importantly, what does that have to do with this week?

The kabbalists teach that historically, yes, there were priests, and there were High Priests. But for humanity, there was only one High Priest, and he had nothing to do with being a descendent of the priesthood. And, who was it? Rav Shimon bar Yochai. The soul of Rav Shimon was never connected to death – it’s very important to understand this. The kabbalists teach that Rav Shimon bar Yochai never connected to the Destruction of the Temple, and never connected to death. That’s why it says in the Zohar that when Rav Shimon bar Yochai left this world his last words were chaim, "life," because it’s an indication of his soul.

So now we understand what the portion of Emor is talking about; it’s not talking about the priests or the High Priests. It’s talking about Rav Shimon bar Yochai. And it reveals to us that Rav Shimon bar Yochai was anointed in the oil. What do we know about the oil? The oil, kabbalists explain, represents the level of Binah, the level that does not ever become attached to death. It always rises to a connection. That’s why if you try to mix oil with water or any other liquids, it will always rise; because it is not of the consciousness of this world, it is not of the darkness of this world.

There’s a very strange statement in the Zohar regarding this week’s portion. It says in the beginning of the portion the Creator tells Moses, "tell and tell again." Why is this? The kabbalists teach that yes, there was the first physical telling of this week’s portion to the Israelites in the desert, but there was a second telling which refers to the revelation of Rav Shimon bar Yochai. And not the revelation of the wisdom of Rav Shimon bar Yochai, which is the Zohar, but rather to the revelation of the appreciation of his soul.

The kabbalists teach that whoever believes and has certainty in Rav Shimon bar Yochai receives strength from Rav Shimon, but it depends on what you know about Rav Shimon bar Yochai. If you think about Rav Shimon as simply an important great soul from whom you want to receive Light, that’s one thing. But when you come to understand that he is the High Priest, that no death can come next to Rav Shimon bar Yochai, that no destruction ever came to Rav Shimon bar Yochai, then that is what you connect to. It is the great gift of this Shabbat, to be able to connect to the true essence of the soul of Rav Shimon.

Unfortunately, I think many people who have some appreciation for Rav Shimon bar Yochai don’t really understand this. The reason he was able to reveal the Light of the Zohar, which is the Light of the Final Redemption, was because his was a soul unique in the entire history of humanity. And every Shabbat Emor, that Light of Rav Shimon bar Yochai is revealed again to us and to this world. And we want to be able to shift our consciousness and become more in line with the consciousness of Rav Shimon bar Yochai.

If we can truly become connected to the soul of Rav Shimon bar Yochai, which is a soul that is not ever attached to death or destruction, we can receive the gift of this Shabbat.

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