Rashbi’s Cave in Pekiin

[EDITORS NOTE- Pekiin is an ancient city that has been occupied since the times of the Beit Hamikdash. Jewish residency in the town was uninterrupted from ancient days until just very recently.]

The History and Mystery of Pekiin – From Hamodia

Join us on a tour of Pekiin, the possible location of the cave where Rabi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar hid from the Romans

By Yitzchok Cohen

In honor of the upcoming celebration of the yahrtzeit of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai on Lag BaOmer, we contacted veteran tour guide Reb Asher Chazan, who has been showing Jewish tourists the holy sites of Eretz Yisrael for many years. Among the numerous fascinating places to which he takes tourists is the remote northern village of Pekiin.

Pekiin is a quaint village tucked into a corner of the Galilee Mountains in northern Israel. According to many sources, the cave where Rabi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar stayed for thirteen years while hiding from the Romans is located there. In fact, tourists are shown an ancient, half-collapsed cave that has a carob tree next to its entrance. This spot is widely accepted as the Rashbi’s hideout, where a carob tree miraculously sprouted overnight and sustained the holy tanna and his son for thirteen years. A stream of

water is located nearby that correlates with our Sages’ account of the miraculous stream from which they quenched their thirst.

Join us for a walk along the paths of Pekiin’s history and let’s hear the various opinions concerning Rashbi’s cave. This compilation is based on a conversation with Reb Asher Chazan and several historical sources.

The Cave of Fame

The Midrash tells us that during Bar Kochba’s uprising, Rabi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar fled from the Romans and hid for thirteen years in a cave. There they delved into the mystical depths of Torah and reached awesome heights of holiness. Where, we wanted to know, is that cave? Read more

Lag B’Omer: God’s Wondrous Simple Infinite Unity

The Zohar teaches that there is so much more to the Torah than meets the eye. The Torah is more than you read and see.Generally, we only read the black letters – Kabbalah looks at the spaces around the black letters. Lag B’Omer we go beyond the simple level of Torah, of Mitzvahs. On Lag B’Omer we all can access a level of the secrets of the Torah.

Rav Kook brought a radical notion – that we should remove the restrictions for studying Kabbalah. He wrote: “Now in the period closet to the end of salvation ‘the voice of the turtle doves is hear in our land and the blossoms appear in the land.’ The need to seek the light of God and to seek supreme spiritual redemption, and to flow toward the Lord and his goodness is increasing (orot p91).

He also wrote: “The secrets of the Torah bring the redemption and return Israel [the Jewish people] to the land, because the Torah of Truth in its mighty inner logic demands the complete soul of the nation. Through this inner Torah- the nation begins to feel the pain of exile and to realize the absolute impossibility for its character to fulfill its potential as long as it is oppressed on foreign soil…”

He wrote: “Even those that don’t understand it complete should study it. Through continual study, gates of light and portals of wisdom shall be revealed to all who walk faithfully on the path of God , who desire to draw near to the divine sanctuary of the the Glorious king, Life Of The Worlds.”

He blessed people that dedicated part of their daily study of Kabbalah. The more the better. Rav Kook also cautioned that the Zohar is sacred and not to be read literally. The objective is to delve in to he greatness of the creator and his wondrous simple infinite unity.