Tag Archives: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Kabbalah secrets for a handful of shekels

4 May

The phone rings.  I lift the receiver.  It’s a recording: “Redemption is here.  We’re heading to the Wailing (Western) Wall this week.  Tell us of your prayers and we will insert them into the stones of the Wall.  Your prayer will be answered.  Call this number today and join the hundreds who’d witnessed redemption.”

Believers at Mt. Meron

Believers at Mt. Meron

I hang up.

Last week, days before Lag BaOmer holiday, a sixteen-page pamphlet arrived in the mail.  The pamphlet speaks of the miracles of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century Jewish sage who revealed the secrets of the Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism.   Lag BaOmer commemorates and celebrates  the Rabbi’s life almost 2000 years ago.  The pilgrimage to his burial site on Mt. Meron in Galilee draws thousands of believers each year.  This year, during LagBaomer, a record is broken.  Almost 400,ooo believers came from across Israel to light the bonfire on Mt. Meron.  That’s 5% (!) of Israel’s population in one place, at one time.  That’s the equivalent of 16,000,000 (!) Americans coming to one place, at one time.

Sorry, Woodstock.

There’s no Jimi Hendrix here, but plenty of men dancing into the night, plenty of prayers.  Hundreds of orthodox boys, age 3, surrender their hair locks to a pair of scissors for the first time.  According to tradition, just as the tree bears the best fruit after the third year, so are the boys who are ripe to learn the Torah.

The travel to Mt. Meron is a logistical nightmare.  Hundreds of buses snake their way north.  Police and paramedics are stationed everywhere.  Campgrounds are packed solid.  Many suffer from heat strokes and dehydration.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Brochure

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Brochure

I skim through the pages and headlines of the Kabbalah pamphlet.  If the Hebrew were to be switched to English, you’d think you’re looking at a Scientology brochure.  The pictures are full-color, vivid, striking.  There’s one of a giant keyhole through which a light shines through.  Several figures appear to be walking toward the light, through the keyhole.  The headline reads: “What happened to 3522 people who’d received this brochure last year?”

I want to find out.

“Last year, inside the ‘Miracles Magazine,’ in a rare event, we chose to reveal the secrets of the Kabbalah.”

On the next page there’s a personal story from Yael Bitton, a 42 year-old woman who’d gotten married.  A Miracle!

“1027 people have gotten married!”

“734 sick people found a cure!”

“The tumor disappeared!”

The article tells of a 5 year-old girl who was diagnosed with a tumor.  After the child’s grandmother  had “joined” the family of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the doctor came out of the operating room and said: “I’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s as if someone has removed it.  It’s gone!”

A man who’d “joined” said: “A rocket from Hamas terrorists missed hitting me by just seconds.”

Lighting the Bonfire

Lighting the Bonfire

“630 parents had tried to have a child but failed.  Once they joined the family of the Rabbi the mothers were able to conceive.”

One such person seeking help was my brother-in-law.  He’s not religious, not in the least.  Three years ago he built a house and the contractor made off with his money.  His friend said, “Go to Rabbi Bar Yochai and you’ll get your money back.”  One night my brother-in-law left the house early to beat the crowd.  He arrived well before midnight.  The place teemed with people.  Ushers and security personnel manned the gates; they let in ten people at a time.  Once inside, a rabbi placed his hand on each of their heads, told them their prayers will be answered, and were told to leave quickly.


The tradition of cutting the boy's hair for the first time at age three

The tradition of cutting a boy’s hair for the first time at age three

My brother-in-law waited until 2am, and seeing that the crowd continued to thicken, he turned back and went home.

The Center’s website offers success stories through video.  In it, a woman tells of pains that went away.  An older, childless man says that he finally got the son he wanted.  A man who suffered from dizzy spells became cured after he’d joined and donated to the center.

Want a newborn, a cure, money, love?  Just sign up for automatic contributions from your checking account each month.  Or send in your donations.

The phone rings.  I lift the handset.  It’s a recording.  This one’s about dental implants.

I hang up.


Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teen-age daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com or BN.com.