(15) And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete; (16) even unto the morrow after the seventh week shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto the LORD.
That Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of disciples, from Gabbat to Antifaras; and they all died at the same time because they did not treat each other with respect. The world remained desolate until Rabbi Akiva came to our Masters in the South and taught the Torah to them, and it was they who revived the Torah at that time. These were Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Judah, Rabbi Yossi, Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Eleazar ben Shammua; And it was they who revived the Torah at that time.
Zohar Idra Zuta Devarim, Haazinu; Death/Release from Cave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai attributed to Lag B'Omer:
On the day that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was to leave this world he arranged his affairs. His friends came to his room and he said to them “now is a time of favour. I can now reveal to you holy things that haven’t been revealed until now”…. All that day the fire never left the room, and there was nobody who was able to approach because it was impossible. The light and the fire were surrounding him. When they [came to] remove his bier the fire flew into the air and the fire danced before it. A voice was heard [from Heaven] saying “come and gather for the hilula (anniversary/celebration) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai”.
חַבְרַיָּא לְבֵי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן. וַהֲווּ קָמֵי רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרֵיהּ וְרִבִּי אַבָּא וּשְׁאָר חַבְרַיָּא. וַהֲוָה מַלְיָא בֵיתָא.
זָקִיף עֵינוֹי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וַחֲמָא דְאִתְמְלֵי בֵיתָא. בָּכָה רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר. בְּזִמְנָא אַחֲרָא כַּד הֲוֵינָא בְּבֵי מַרְעֵי, הֲוָה רִבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר קַמָּאי. וְעַד דְּבָרִירְנָא דּוּכְתָּאי אוֹרִיכוּ לִי עַד הַשְׁתָּא. וְכַד תַּבְנָא אַסְחַר אֶשָׁא מִקָּמָּאי וּמֵעַלְמִין לָא אִתְפְּסָק. וְלָא הֲוָה עָאל בַּר נָשׁ אֶלָּא בִרְשׁוּתָא. וְהַשְׁתָּא חֲמֵינָא דְּאִתְפְּסַק וְהָא אִתְמְלֵי בֵיתָא. עַד דַּהֲווֹ יַתְבֵי. פָּתַח עֵינוֹי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְחָמָא מַה דְּחָמָא וְאַסְחַר אֶשָׁא בְּבֵיתָא. נָפְקוּ כֻלְּהוּ וְאִשְׁתְּאֲרוּ רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרֵיהּ וְרִבִּי אַבָּא. וּשְׁאָר חַבְרַיָּא יָתְבוּ אַבַּרָאי....
אָמַר רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן לְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרֵיהּ, פּוּק חֲזֵי אִי הָכָא רִבִּי יִצְחָק דְּאֲנָא מְעָרַבְנָא לֵיהּ. אִימָא לֵיהּ דִּיסַדֵּר מִלּוֹי וְיֵתִיב לְגַבָּאי זַכָּאָה חוּלָקֵיהּ.
They taught: On the day that Rabbi Shimon was to depart the world, while he was arranging his affairs, the companions assembled at his house. Rabbi Eleazar his son, Rabbi Abba, and the other companions were present, and the house was full of people.
Rabbi Shimon raised his eyes and saw that the house was filled. He cried and said: the other time I was ill, R. Pinhas b. Yair was with us in my presence, and while I was selecting my place in Paradise, my life was extended until now. When I returned, fire was whirling in front of me, and it has never gone out, and no person has entered without permission. And now I see that it has gone out, and the house is filled.
While they were sitting, Rabbi Shimon opened his eyes and saw what he saw; fire whirled through the House. Everyone left; Rabbi Eleazar his son and Rabbi Abba remained, but the other companions sat outside….
קָם רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְיָתִיב וְחַיִּיךְ וְחַדֵּי. אָמַר אָן אִנּוּן חַבְרַיָּא. קָם רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְאָעִיל לוֹן וְיַתְבוּ קָמֵיהּ. זָקִיף יְדוֹי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וּמְצַלֵּי צְלוֹתָא וַהֲוָה חַדֵּי וְאָמַר. אִנּוּן חַבְרַיָּא דְאִשְׁתְּכָחוּ בְבֵי אִדָּרָא יִזְדַּמְּנוּן הָכָא. נָפְקוּ כֻלְּהוּ וְאִשְׁתְּאֲרוּ רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרֵיהּ וְרִבִּי אַבָּא וְרִבִּי יְהוּדָה וְרִבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרִבִּי חִיָּיא. אַדְּהָכִי עָאל רִבִּי יִצְחָק. אָמַר לֵיהּ רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן כַּמָּה יֵאוֹת חוּלָקָךְ כַּמָּה חֵידוּ בָעֵי לְאִתּוֹסְפָא לָךְ בְּהָאי יוֹמָא. יָתִיב רִבִּי אַבָּא בָּתַר כִּתְפוֹי וְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר קָמֵיהּ.
אָמַר רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן הָא הַשְׁתָּא שַׁעְתָּא דִרְעוּתָא הוּא. וַאֲנָא בָעֵינָא לְמֵיעָל בְּלָא כִּסּוּפָא לְעָלְמָא דְּאָתֵי. וְהָא מִלִּין קַדִּישִׁין דְּלָא גָּלְיָאן עַד הַשְׁתָּא, בָּעֵינָא לְגַלָּאָה קַמֵּי שְׁכִינְתָּא, דְּלָא יֵימְרוּן דְּהָא בִּגְרִיעוּתָא אִסְתָּלַקְנָא מֵעָלְמָא. וְעַד כְּעַן טְמִירִן הֲווֹ בְּלִבָּאִי, לְמֵיעַל בְּהוּ לְעָלְמָא דְּאָתֵי. וְכַךְ אַסְדַּרְנָא לְכוּ, רִבִּי אַבָּא יִכְתּוֹב, וְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרִי יִלְעֵי, וּשְׁאַר חַבְרַיָּיא יְרַחֲשׁוּן בְּלִבַּיְיהוּ....
Rabbi Shimon rose and laughed in delight. He asked: “Where are the companions?!” Rabbi Eleazar rose and brought them in. They sat in front of him. Rabbi Shimon raised his hands and said a prayer, and he rejoiced and said: Those companions who were present at the threshing floor will convene here. Everyone went out; there remained Rabbi Eleazar his son, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Judah, Rabbi Yossi, and Rabbi Hiyya remained… Rabbi Abba sat behind him and Rabbi Eleazar in front.
Rabbi Shimon said: Now is a time of favor. I wish to enter without shame into the world that is coming. I want to reveal holy words, until now unrevealed, in the presence of the Shekhinah, so it will not be said that I left the world deficiently. Until now they were hidden in my heart, that I might ascend to the world that is coming. I will arrange you thus: Rabbi Abba will write, Rabbi Eleazar my son will repeat, the other companions will meditate in their hearts….
קָם רִבִּי אַבָּא מִבָּתַר כַּתְפוֹי. וְיָתִיב רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרֵיהּ קַמֵּיהּ, אָמַר לֵיהּ קוּם בְּרִי, דְּהָא אַחֲרָא יְתִיב בְּהַהוּא אֲתָר, קָם רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר.
אִתְעֲטָּף רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, וְיָתִיב. פָּתַח וְאָמַר, (תהלים קטו) לֹא הַמֵּתִים יְהַלְלוּ יָהּ וְלֹא כָּל יוֹרְדֵי דוּמָה. לֹא הַמֵּתִים יְהַלְלוּ יָהּ, הָכִי הוּא וַדַּאי, אִינּוּן דְּאִקְרוּן מֵתִים, דְּהָא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא חַי אִקְרֵי, וְהוּא שָׁארֵי בֵּין אִינּוּן דְּאִקְרוּן חַיִּים, וְלָא עִם אִינּוּן דְּאִקְרוּן מֵתִים. וְסוֹפֵיהּ דִּקְרָא כְּתִיב, וְלֹא כָּל יוֹרְדֵי דוּמָה, וְכָל אִינּוּן דְּנַחְתִּין לְדוּמָה, בַּגֵיהִנָּם יִשְׁתַּאֲרוּן. שָׁאנֵי אִינּוּן דְּאִקְרוּן חַיִּים, דְּהָא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא בָּעֵי בִּיקָרֵיהוֹן.
אָמַר רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, כַּמָה שַׁנְיָא שַׁעֲתָא
Rabbi Abba rose from behind Rabbi Shimon’s shoulders [and sat before Rebbe Shimon]. Rabbi Elazar continued sitting before Rebbe Shimon. Rebbe Shimon said, “Arise, my son, for another [a tzaddik from the upper worlds]will sit in that place.” Rabbi Elazar arose [and sat down elsewhere].
Rebbe Shimon wrapped himself [in his tallit]. He sat down and said: “‘The dead do not praise G‑d, nor do those who go down into Silence [the eternal silence of the grave, for the absolutely wicked].’ (Psalms 115:17) ‘The dead do not praise G‑d...’—this surely means those who are called ‘dead’ [even when they are alive], for G‑d is called ‘[eternally] living,’ and He dwells among those who are also called ‘live’ [the righteous], and not among those who are called ‘dead’ [even during their lifetimes, for they do not cleave to G‑d, the Source of Life]. The end of the verse states, ‘. . .nor do those who go down into Silence’—those who descend to Silence will remain there. [Meaning: only those who descend to Silence permanently will not praise G‑d, whereas those who experience a temporary spiritual anguish (Purgatory) after death do return to utter G‑d’s praises.] But those who are called ‘alive’ are different; the Holy One, blessed be He, desires their honor.”
...Rabbi Abba recalls, "I was writing, in middle of quoting a verse. Rebbe Shimon stopped at the word 'chayim'. I waited, wanting to continue, but did not raise my head to see why Rebbe Shimon had stopped, for I was unable to look at the great light that was shining around him. Suddenly, I heard a voice call out a verse with the word 'chayim', and then another voice called out an additional verse. I fell to the ground and wept. When the fire and the light departed, I saw that the great light, Rebbe Shimon, had passed away. He was lying on his right side and his face was smiling."
פָּתַח רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר, (שיר השירים ז) אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ. כָּל יוֹמִין דְּאִתְקְטַּרְנָא בְּהַאי עָלְמָא, בְּחַד קְטִירָא אִתְקְטַּרְנָא בֵּיהּ בְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, וּבְגִין כָּךְ הַשְׁתָּא וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ. דְּהוּא וְכָל סִיעָתָא קַדִּישָׁא דִּילֵיהּ, אָתוּ לְמִשְׁמַע בְּחֶדְוָה, מִלִּין סְתִימִין, וּשְׁבָחָא דְּעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא, סְתִימָא דְּכָל סְתִימִין, פָּרִישׁ וְאִתְפְּרַשׁ מִכֹּלָּא, וְלָא פָּרִישׁ, דְּהָא כֹּלָּא בֵּיהּ מִתְדְּבַק, וְהוּא מִתְדְּבַק בְּכֹלָּא הוּא כֹּלָּא.
Rabbi Shimon opened and said: “I am my beloved, his desire is upon me.” (Song of Songs 7:11). All the days that I have been bound to this world I have been bound in a single bond with the blessed Holy One; hence, now “His desire is upon me.” For he and his holy entourage had come to joyfully hear concealed words and praise of the Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed, separate, separated from all, yet not separate. For all is joined to Him, and He is joined to all: He is all! Ancient of all ancients, concealed of all concealed, arrayed and not arrayed, arrayed to sustain all, but not arrayed, for He is not to be found. When arrayed, nine lights radiate, blazing from it and from its arrays. Those lights, sparkling, flashing, emanate in every direction.
Until now these words were concealed, for I was frightened to reveal them; now they have been revealed! And it is revealed before the Holy Ancient One, that I have not acted for my own honor, nor for the honor of my family, but rather so I will not enter his palace with shame. Furthermore, I see that the blessed Holy One and all these righteous ones approve. I see all of them rejoicing in this, my wedding celebration! All of them are invited, in that world, to my wedding celebration. Happy is my portion!
Rabbi Abba said: When the Holy Spark, the High Spark, finished this word, he raised his hands, cried and laughed. He wanted to reveal one word. He said: I have been troubled by this word all my days, and now they are not giving me permission!
1. Summoning up his courage, he sat and moved his lips and bowed three times. No one could look at his place, certainly not at him. He said: “Mouth, mouth, you have attained so much! Your spring has not dried up. Your spring flows endlessly. Of you it is written: “A river issues from Eden” (Gen 2:10). [a favorite verse of the Zohar, used to refer to esoteric teaching,often compared to Binah] “Like a spring whose waters do not fail” (Isa 58:11). Now I avow: All the days I have been alive, I have yearned to see this day. Now my desire is crowned with success. This day itself is crowned. Now I want to reveal words in the presence of the Blessed Holy One; all those words adorn my head like a crown. This day will not miss its mark like the other day, for this whole day is mine. I have now begun revealing words so I will not enter shamefully into the world that is coming. I have begun! I will speak!
I have seen that all those sparks flash from the High Spark, hidden of all hidden. All are levels of enlightenment. In the light of each and every level there is revealed what is revealed. All those lights are connected: this light to that light, that light to this light, one shining into the other, inseparable, one from the other. The light of each and every spark, called Adornments of the King, Crowns of the King—each one shines into, joins onto the light within, within, not separating without. So all rises to one level, all is crowned with one word; no separating one from the other. It and its name are one.
The light that is revealed is called the Garment of the King. The light within, within is a concealed light. In that light dwells the Ineffable One, the Unrevealed. All those sparks and all those lights sparkle from the Holy Ancient One. Concealed of all concealed, the High Spark. Upon reflecting, all those lights emanating—there is nothing but the High Spark, hidden and unrevealed….
“For there God commanded the blessing, eternal life” (Ps 133:3). Rabbi Abba said: Before the Holy Spark finished, his words subsided. I was still writing, intending to write more, but I heard nothing. I did not raise my head: the light was overwhelming, I could not look. Then I started trembling. I heard a voice calling: “length of days and years of light” (Prov 3:2). I heard another voice: “He asked you for life, and you granted it” (Ps 21:5).
All day long the fire in the house did not go out. No one reached him; no one could: light and fire surrounded him. All day long I lay on the ground and wailed. After the fire disappeared, I saw the Holy Spark, Holy of Holies, leaving the world, enwrapped, lying on his right, his face smiling.
2. Rabbi Eleazar his son rose, took his hands, and kissed them. As for me, I licked the dust from the bottom of his feet. The companions wanted to cry but could not utter a sound. Finally, they let out a cry, but Rabbi Eleazar his son fell three times, unable to open his mouth. Finally he opened and cried “Father! Father!”
3. Rabbi Hiyya rose to his feet and said: “Until now the holy Spark has looked after us; now is the time to engage in honoring him.” Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Abba rose. They carried him on a trundle made out of a gangplank—Who has seen the Companion’s confusion?—and the whole house was fragrant. They lifted him onto his bed, only Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Abba attended him. Truculent stingers and shield-bearing warriors [i.e., Torah scholars who wanted R. Shimon buried in their city] from Sepphori came and beset them. The people of Meron banded together and shouted, for they feared he would not be buried there.
After the bed emerged from the house, it rose into the air; fire blazed before it. They heard a voice: “Come and enter! Assemble for the wedding celebration of Rabbi Shimon. “He shall enter in piece, they shall rest on their couches“ (Isa 57:2) As he entered the cave, they heard a voice from inside: This is the man who shook the earth, who made kingdoms tremble! His Lord prides himself on him every day. Happy is his portion above and below! Many sublime treasures lie in store for him. “Go to the end and take your rest; you will rise for your reward at the end of days” (Dan 12:13).
(This translation was largely based upon Daniel Matt’s Essential Kabbalah, “The Wedding Celebration,” pp. 55-63)