Sefirat HaOmer: Count on Rebbe Shimon!
Why do hundreds of thousands of people frequent Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai's holy gravesite in Meron every Lag B'Omer? They have someone to count on...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Rebbe Yehoshua ben Levi was one of the greatest miracle workers and righteous sages of the Talmud. But in a trying situation, he suggests that we count on Rebbe Shimon (tractate Berachot, 9a).
For centuries, Jews have done everything in their power to pray by Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai's holy gravesite in Meron on Lag B'Omer, his yahrtzeit, or day of departure from the material world. Throughout the ages, people have seen phenomenal miracles after having come to Meron on Lag B'omer, the thirty-third day of the Omer. What's so special about it?
The Zohar in the beginning of the Idra Zuta tells that moments before Rebbe Shimon left this world he gathered his students and told them that this - the Eighteenth of Iyar and Lag B'omer - should be a day of joy and celebration. The Arizal says, “On Lag B’Omer the Tanna Rashbi (acronym for Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai) stands at his holy resting place and blesses each and every person that comes to pray there and rejoice in his name on his holy Yartzeit.”
A blessing from Rebbe Shimon, author of the holy Zohar who revealed the esoteric secrets of Torah, invokes miracles. Thousands of Jewish children are named "Shimon" in honor of Rashbi, since they were born as a result of their parents' supplications in Meron. I'd like to share one such story with you, in which I was personally involved.
Tomer and Sari Berman (names changed to protect their privacy) were born into secular homes in Haifa. Tomer had been a sailor in the Israeli Merchant Marine and Sari was a former champion athlete. After having received emuna books and CDs from Emuna Outreach, Tomer and Sari decided to pursue an observant Jewish lifestyle. They hoped that their spiritual turnaround would accord them with the merit of having children, for they had been married for six years already and were yet to be blessed with children.
As an athlete, Sari had suffered a type of hernia that is associated with tremendous strain on the inguinal area. Her reproductive apparatus was severely damaged and fertility specialists told her that she had minuscule chances of ever having children. She and Tomer weren't satisfied with the answer they received in the Israeli fertility clinic, so they used up every bit of their savings seeking the advice and treatment of specialists in Europe and America. Broken hearted empty-pocketed, they came back to Israel, a week before Lag B'Omer. They gave me a call and asked if I had any advice for them. I told them that they should take advantage of the Arizal's promise, go to Meron on Lag B'Omer, and get the blessing of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai. If possible, they should also do six hours of personal prayer there. They did.
Twelve months later, on the eleventh day of Iyar, little baby Berman was born. The day of the Brit Mila, the circumcision, came out on the 18th of Iyar, Lag B'Omer! Despite the difficulties involved, Tomer and Sari insisted on having his Brit in Meron. They did, and they named the baby Shimon.
Three years later, Shimon had his challakeh, his first haircut, in Meron.
Next year, G-d willing, Shimon Berman will have his bar-mitzva in Meron.
You can surely count on Rebbe Shimon. We'll see you in Meron!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.