Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was a holy Jewish sage and mystic who lived in Israel after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Rabbi Shimon was forced to go into hiding for criticizing the Roman government, fleeing to a deserted cave. Tradition tells us that a carob tree sprang up outside of the cave, and spring of fresh water appeared. Sustained by these two provisions, Rabbi Shimon and his son remained in the cave for 13 years, devoting themselves to the study of Torah.
The anniversary of Rabbi Shimon’s death is a celebratory day on the Jewish calendar, because Rabbi Shimon asked that he be remembered through happiness rather than mourning. This day, called Lag Ba’omer, usually occurs during the month of May or June, and is marked by dancing and feasting around bonfires, distributing sweets to children, and music and singing.
We are at the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Academy are proud to carry on the tradition of this tzadik (righteous man). Saintly, kind, and wise, Rabbi Shimon was also a preeminent kabbalist. In fact, the Zohar Hakadosh, the greatest book of Jewish mysticism, is attributed to him.
Naming the academy after Rabbi Shimon also has personal significance for Mr. Melamed, the academy’s dean. His great-grandfather was a kabbalist, and the Zohar was studied in his family. Mr. Melamed has studied logic and philosophy, and holds a master’s degree in mathematics, but finds the deepest truths and answers in his study of Zohar.