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Rashbi Grave in Meron

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, known as the Rashbi, was one of the great sages in the second century. Known for writing the holy book of Zohar, Jewish mysticism, and is buried in Meron alongside his son, Rabbi Elazar. The grave of both Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son are a holy landmark that draws thousands of Jews from all over the world

History

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known as the Rashbi, was a famous rabbi who lived during the time period following the destruction of the second holy temple in 70 CE. He was a disciple of Rabbi Akiva. He wrote the Zohar, which is the most important book of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism; this book was written when he was in hiding from the Roman army – for thirteen years in a cave near Peki’in. His son, Rabbi Elazar, was also a scholar.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away on Lag Ba’Omer, on the same date when the plague which killed over 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students in the 2nd century ended. This date, known as Lag Ba’Omer, was a day of celebration by Jews across time. The Rashbi was buried in Meron.

The tomb

The complex at Meron includes the tombs where the Rashbi and his son, Rabbi Elazar, are buried. It also includes synagogues, courtyards, and living quarters.

The original structure was built in the 16th century by Rabbi Avraham Galante of Safed. Living quarters were added over the years to house the guests who came to visit the Rashbi’s tomb. The current renovated structure was added in the 19th century.

Customs

The Rashbi’s tomb is visited all year round, however, on Lag Ba’Omer the tomb has thousands of visitors, who come to pray and dance around bonfires on the site. Tents and pavilions are set up on the hillside by the tomb, and people stream to Meron over the days before Lag Ba’Omer

Many Jews have a custom not to cut a young boy’s hair until he turns three years old. At this time, a celebration known as an upsherin is held. A common custom on Lag Ba’Omer is to cut the hair of the three year olds at the Rashbi’s tomb.

Tip: The tomb, like many tombs in Israel, is used as a synagogue. There is a separate entrance for men and women

Tip: To get there, take route 89 north from Tzfat (Safed). Continue straight onto route 866. Turn right at route 8599. At the traffic circle, take the first exit, following the signs into Meron

Info: curtesy of Attractions in Israel


Published on: April 27, 2017  -  Filed under: Activities