• Akiva Murguia

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman - Torah Wellsprings - Behar - Lag B'Omer - Part 2


There it states another very encouraging statement from Reb Shimon bar Yochai. He said, "The Jewish people never go to Gehinom," "He knows our yetzer hara." He knows how the yetzer hara is constantly luring us to sin, and how hard it is to serve Him. And therefore, He understands that we aren't totally guilty for our sins. Therefore, He doesn’t let us go to Gehinom. Reb Shimon bar Yochai tells the following parable: A king had an infertile plot of land. It never produced anything at all. Some people rented the field from the king for ten kur of wheat annually. That means that each year, they had to supply the king with ten kur of the produce, and the rest they could keep for themselves. However, after plowing, fertilizing, sowing and irrigating the field for an entire year all the field produced, was one kur. The king rebuked them. The deal was for ten kur. They explained, "Our master, our king; you know that this field has never earned you any profit. After working hard on the field, we enabled it to produce only one kur of wheat." Reb Shimon bar Yochai concludes, "This is the same defense the Jewish nation says to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. They will say, 'Master of the world, you know that the yetzer hara lures us to sin. As it states (Tehillim 103), Hashem knows our yetzer hara,'" and therefore, we can be excused for our poor output.

Every year on Lag b’Omer, Reb Shimon once again announces, "I can redeem the entire world from judgment." Everyone can receive his blessings and earn from his great merits. The only condition is to believe in Reb Shimon bar Yochai, as the Beis Aharon writes "Whoever believes in Reb Shimon bar Yochai gets chizuk from Reb Shimon bar Yochai" and then we can receive so much goodness.

The Shlah HaKadosh writes in a letter, "At the holy, fiery place, the tzion of Reb Shimon bar Yochai, people learn Zohar with awe and deveikus, because many miracles happen over there. Because one must learn Zohar with fear, and then to make oneself very happy with spiritual happiness, without any mourning and depression, because this is what Reb Shimon wants,8 and this is proven and true, and then they make vows, and they pray."

Once, on Lag b'Omer, the Divrei Shmuel of Slonim zy’a said the following: A wealthy businesswoman, who worked in exports, loaded a ship with merchandise. Before the ship set sail, she went to Reb Shimon bar Yochai's tomb to pray that the ship together with all the merchandise reach their destination. But she couldn’t get close to the tomb, because there was another woman in front of her praying. This woman was praying for three hundred rubles to marry off her child. The wealthy woman quickly took three hundred ruble from her purse and gave it to her so she would leave, and make room for her to pray. When she began her prayers, she said, "Reb Shimon, you saw that the woman before me received her request immediately. May my requests also be answered immediately." The Divrei Shmuel said: The amazing thing is that this wealthy woman didn’t pray that in the merit of the charity she just gave, the ship should reach its destination. Her words reflected her belief in the power of prayer at Reb Shimon bar Yochai's tomb. She realized that the woman in front of her received the money in the merit of her prayers, and therefore she requested that her prayers should also be answered.

The Chida (Moreh b'Etzba 223) writes, "Be happy, in honor of Reb Shimon bar Yochai, because Lag b'Omer is his hilula [celebration] and it is know that he desired people to rejoice on this day."

The Gemara (Makos 17:) states: "A mother should pray that her child grow up to be like Reb Shimon bar Yochai." This Gemara is wondrous, because who can expect to have a child like Reb Shimon bar Yochai? The Minchas Elazar (Shaar Yissaschar) answers that the Gemara is referring to someone who is praying on Lag b'Omer. On this day, anything is possible. On this day, one can ask for the greatest things, and even that one's child be like Reb Shimon bar Yocahi. Lag b’Omer is also the day to pray for parnassah, as according to one Midrash, the manna started to come down on Lag b'Omer.

The Chasam Sofer (Yorah Deiah 233) makes the following calculation: Chazal tell us that the nation finished the matzos on Pesach Sheini. The Midrash says that they didn’t have food to eat for three days, and then the manna fell. According to this calculation, the manna first came on Lag b'Omer.

Rebbe Tzaddok HaCohen zt’l (Tzikdas HaTzaddik 127) writes, “The Zohar (Chayei Sarah 129) states that even the greatest sinner, when he repents, merits all levels. In the name of Rebbe Bunim of Pshischa zt'l I heard that Reb Shimon bar Yochai accomplished this with his toil in avodas Hashem [that teshuvah, of even the greatest sinner, rectifies everything, and one rises to the highest levels].”

On Lag b'Omer, all one's problems can be resolved. Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz zt'l said that this is alluded to in the Zohar which tells us that the gates of heaven are opened on Pesach Sheini for a week, and then they close. Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz zy’a, asked why do the gates have to close? Why can't they remain open? The answer is, in this week is Lag b'Omer, and on Lag b'Omer everyone receives everything they need. Since Klal Yisrael has already received all their hearts' desires, the gates of mercy can close.

A childless couple prayed at the kever of Reb Shimon bar Yochai, and promised that if they have a child they will bring him to Meron on Lag b'Omer for the chalakah (to make peyos). Indeed, they had a child. When the child turned three, the mother came to Meron as she promised. (The husband remained home.) That year, Lag b'Omer was on Friday, so most people remained in Meron for Shabbos. On Shabbos, as Reb Asher Zelig davened Mussaf, he heard great shouts and cries. The child became ill with cholera and died. Everyone was panicking; especially the mother, whose cries could be heard above all others. Reb Asher Zelig writes that he saw the child; "he was green and seemed to be dead." Everyone was distraught, no one could make Kiddush. The mother took the child and placed him near the tzion and she said, "Reb Shimon! I brought my only son here, for he was born in your merit. I kept my promise, and I made his first haircut here. Do not ruin my happiness and the happiness of my husband, who is waiting for us to return. "Reb Shimon! I’m leaving my son here. Please, don’t embarrass me. Bring him back to health and life, as I brought him here yesterday. Sanctify Hashem's name. Let everyone know that there is Hashem and that there are tzaddikim." She left, and shut the door behind her. Only the child was left inside. A few minutes letter, the child's voice was heard. He was calling for his mother. Reb Asher Zelig opened the door. The boy was standing on his feet, calling, "Mother, I'm thirsty. Bring me water." Now, instead of a tumult of sorrow, a tumult of immense joy and wonder was heard. The dead child came back to life. They all said the blessing, מחיה המתים.

We will now tell a story that happened. Zelig was getting older, and couldn’t seem to find his soulmate. On Lag b'Omer, his mother was traveling to Meron and was speaking to her husband on the cell phone. "I just reminded myself that years ago, we were in Meron, davening for a child. We promised at that time that we would call the son Shimon. But when our first son was born, we forgot our promise and we called him Zelig. I was thinking, maybe this is what’s holding back his shidduchim?" The father immediately called up his rebbe who told him to call their son Shimon Zelig from then on. The mother prayed by the tomb of Reb Shimon that her son Shimon Zelig should finally find his soulmate and become engaged. The next Shabbos, the gabai called up the bachur, "Shimon Zelig" for an aliyah, and afterwards he made a mi shebeirach. There was another person in this beis medresh called Zelig. He asked the gabai, "Why did you call this bachur Shimon Zelig. Until now he was Zelig." The gabai said, "That is what the father asked me to do. I don’t know why. I didn’t ask questions." This Zelig had a daughter. Long ago, he wanted the bachur Zelig for a chasan, but Reb Yehuda HaChosid taught that the names of father- in- law and son- in- law mustn’t be the same. Now that their names weren't exactly the same, he was willing to go forward with the shidduch. It didn’t take long, and Shimon Zelig was engaged to Zelig's daughter.

There was a woman from America waiting five years for a liver transplant. Her husband would support a Yerushalmi Yid who would go periodically to kivrei tzaddikim and daven for this woman. On Friday before Lag b'Omer, the husband called his contact in Yerushalayim and requested from him to go to Meron for Shabbos and to remain there until after Lag b'Omer. "My wife's health is deteriorating, and she needs tefillos. I'll pay for the taxi and for all expenses involved." The Yerushalmi Yid obliged, and he poured his heart out at the kever of Reb Shimon bar Yochai for her recovery. That Shabbos there was a fatal car accident in New York, leaving the driver dead. His liver was an exact match for this woman. But there were two other people (not Yidden) ahead of her in line for a transplant. The hospital tried to call the first person next in line, but they couldn’t get hold of him. So the hospital called the second person in line, to come down to the hospital for an immediate transplant. This man came to the hospital, but as they were prepping him for surgery he became afraid and left. It was this woman's turn now, but how can she be contacted on Shabbos? The renowned Dr. Braun called a rabbi who knew the ill woman and her husband. This rabbi answered telephone calls on Shabbos, because many questions of pikuach nefesh were posed to him. Dr. Braun said, "We need to get in contact with this family. The liver is just what she needs, but if she will not come soon it will be given away to someone else." The Rabbi decided that the first thing he would try is to call them directly. Perhaps they will answer the phone. Generally, this family doesn’t answer the phone on Shabbos (excluding the times when the wife was in the hospital, and the hospital was calling their home, because then it was understood that it might be an emergency). When the rabbi called them on this fateful Shabbos day, they wouldn’t have answered the phone either. However, one of their young children picked up the phone (by Divine providence) and this is how the family was informed that there was a liver available immediately, which saved her life. A few days later this woman was walking around, and she was all well. This all happened because of the tefillos at the tomb of Reb Shimon bar Yochai, the place which the Shlah HaKadosh testifies: "Miracles occur there."


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