Shabbat 34 - Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Yehudah ben Geirim overheard a conversation between Sages, one of whom praised the Romans, another remained silent, while Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said that they made baths for harlots and bridges for collecting taxes. Shimon ben Geirim told this to a friend, and eventually his words reached the Romans, who dealt with each Sage according to his words. Rabbi Shimon was to be put to death, and he hid in a cave with his son Elazar. Miraculously a caper bush grew there to sustain them. After thirteen years of studying Torah in this cave they emerged, but they were so upset to see people running after material and not spiritual pursuits that everything they looked upon would burn, so they were commanded to go back. A year later they emerged again, and now whatever Rabbi Elazar was destroying his father was repairing. Finally, Rabbi Shimon told his son, "When you and I learn Torah, this is enough for the world, leave others at rest."

Then Rabbi Shimon said, "Since a miracle happened with me, let me do something for the community." They told him that a large fields was impassable for the kohanim, because a grave was lost there. One elder told Rabbi Shimon that he remembered a place where Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai harvested beans in ritual purity. Rabbi Shimon did the same, and the corpse miraculously rose to the surface, after which Rabbi Shimon marked of this area as impure, and the rest as pure. The elder then mocked him. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "You were with us in this advice. Even harlots make braids for each other, and help their competitors (because collectively they can command a higher price), so the Sages should not bicker!" Rabbi Shimon set his eyes on the elder, and he died.

They then saw Yehudah ben Geirim in the marketplace. Rabbi Shimon asked in surprise, "He is still in the world?" Rabbi Shimon set his eyes on him, and he turned in a heap of bones.

Here are three things that a man should say in his household on Friday afternoon before dark: Have you tithed, to make our food permitted on Shabbat? Have you made an eruv (food placed at a distance, for one to be allowed to walk there)? Please - light the Shabbat candles!"

Art: David The Younger Teniers - Hermits in a Cave