Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai – Author of the Zohar
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, or simply the Rashbi, lived in the Tannaim rabbinical era, was a student of Rabbi Akiva and is the author of the Zohar book. Rashbi lived in the 2nd century and is considered an important figure in Jewish history. Rashbi is mentioned numerous times in the Talmud, and is the focus of many tales and legends.
Rashbi was a vocal critic of the Roman rule inIsrael, and was forced to go into hiding with his son in a cave near Peki’in. Legend has it that Rashbi and his son drank natural spring water, and fed on a magically regenerating Carob tree. Rashbi and his son devoted themselves to studying spirituality and the Torah while hiding in the cave.
Rashbi and the Zohar
According to the Torah, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was permitted to discover the secrets of the Torah. Baal Ha-Sulam (Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag), who wrote the Sulam commentary to the Zohar, explains that Rashbi and his students achieved the highest spiritual enlightenment and climbed the 125 spiritual steps so that their soul received a Tikkun. Since mankind, and especially the Jewish people, were not ready spiritually to study the Zohar, it was concealed and only reappeared in the 13th century.
It is said that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is the reincarnation of a soul connecting higher spiritual power to the rest of creation. The soul is said to have reincarnated in Abraham, Moses, Rashbi, ARIHa-Kadush and Baal Ha-Sulam. Each reincarnation was mentioned in Kabbalah books and helped mankind climb to newer, higher spiritual steps.