Tolerance – Spiritual Maturity – The Story of Rashbi
September 25, 2014 Comments Off on Tolerance – Spiritual Maturity – The Story of Rashbi
Rabbi Shimeon Bar Yochai (Rashbi)
Rabbi Shimeon is the author of the classic Kabbalistic work, the Holy Zohar (‘Book of Splendor’), first published in 1558. Transcribed by his student R’ Abba, the Zohar lays out the foundations and core principles of mysticism and contains, often in cryptic form, the deepest cosmic secrets. An extraordinary scholar and miracle worker, Rabbi Shimeon was renowned for his mastery of both the revealed and the hidden dimensions of Torah.
~ Due to persecution against Jews led by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, R’ Shimeon is sentenced to death for defying the government. Forced to flee, he hides in a cave for thirteen years together with his son, R’ Elazar, where they study Torah day and night. A carob tree and a spring of fresh water miraculously spring up at the entrance to the desert cave and they are sustained until the Emperor dies and the decree is annulled.
Source: The Rashibi
They lived in the cave for twelve years. Elijah came and stood at the opening of the cave. He said, “Who will tell the son of Yohai that Caesar is dead and his decree was canceled?”
They went out. They saw people plowing and planting. He [Rabbi Simeon] said, “They are forsaking eternal life and occupying themselves with temporal life.” Every place they cast their eyes was immediately burned.
A heavenly voice came out and said, “Did you come out to destroy my world? Return to your cave!” They returned and lived in the cave for twelve months. They said, “The sentence of the wicked in Gehinom is twelve months.” A heavenly voice came forth [and said,] “Get out of your cave.”
They went out. Everything that Rabbi Eliezer destroyed, Rabbi Simeon repaired.
Source: Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 33b: Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai and the Cave
To understand this story – Rabbi Simon Jacobson listen to from minute 1:05
“Twelve years away from civilization he became far more sublime…When Rashbi and his son came back they saw the superficiality, the pettiness, the things people are involved in: the material level, surface level. It so disturbed them that whatever they looked at began to burn.Whether it’s metaphorical or physical the idea is that their great spiritual height that they reached was intolerant of a petty world.
And God said to him: Oh no. You didn’t learn the main lesson.Twelve years. You need to go back a thirteenth year. You need to reach a level of maturity. Bar Mitzvah: the thirteenth year, and learn not to destroy my world, but to repair it…
So he went back a thirteenth year, and this time when Rashbi came out, wherever he went, whatever was broken, he healed. Whatever was broken, he fixed. He found ways. …
God said – I did not create the world for chaos, but to settle it. To civilize this world. Fix it. Find a way to inspire through love and Rashbi finally discovered that. He too was at the edge of intolerance but then he went a deep level deeper, became even more soulful, and this time his soul learnt – you know what? I’ve to make this better. So it’s a greater level of maturity.
And I’m not talking about tolerance that he became more compromising, his standards lowered. On the contrary, in theory you can imagine his standards went up. But his maturity also went up; so now instead of fighting it, instead of burning it, he repaired it….
Rashbi went deeper so he was able to deal with the people who were petty…He was still intolerant of the pettiness, but his method was no longer through intolerance. It was through repair. Through healing.