Grave of Shimon Bar Yochai
One of the holiest and best-known sites in the Jewish world is the tomb of this tanna R. Shimon Bar Yochai
Love for Torah, for the people of Israel and for Eretz Israel; these were the three pillars that inspired R. Shimon Bar Yochai, the legendary tanna. The anniversary of his death, the eighteenth of Iyyar whichis also Lag ba-Omer, has become a day of great celebration. Of all celebrations held at the holy sites in contemporary times, non compares to the outpouring of happiness at the hillulah held on Lag ba-Omer at the tomb of R. Shimon Bar Yochai.
R. Shimon bar Yochai, the mystic, authored the holy Zohar, the basic text of Kabbalah, as well as other esoteric works. He is considered the “father” of kabbala, earning him the title “the divine tanna.” He wrote the Zohar at Meron, where he lived in isolation with his son. Both sages are buried there.
The hillulah at the tomb of R. Shimon Bar Yochai held on Lag ba-Omer involves more than just lighting a bonfire and quietly gathering to recite psalms and say private prayers. Highlights of the modern-day celebration include spirited dancing and singing. Many also take this opportunity to perform the challake, the traditional first haircut of a three year-old boy. Often, all the hair on the boy’s head is shaved except for the peot (sideburns). The ceremony is accompanied by special songs honoring R. Shimon bar Yochai.
18 Iyyar, on Lag ba-Omer
In the parking lot before the entrance to Meron village, on the left side of road 866
In each century, they reconstructed and enlarged the tomb for the comfort of the increasingly large amounts of visitors who stream to the tomb on a steady basis.