Simeon ben Jochai
David and Solomon were most initiated into
the Kabbalah. No one, however, dared to write it down, till Simon ben Jochai,
who lived at the time of the destruction of' the second Temple. Having
been condemned to death by Titus, Rabbi Simon managed to escape with his
son and concealed himself in a cavern where he remained for twelve years.
Here, in this subterranean abode, he occupied himself entirely with the
contemplation of the sublime Kabbalah, and was constantly visited by the
Prophet. Elias, who disclosed to him some of its secrets which were still
concealed from the theosophical Rabbi. Here, too, his disciples resorted
to be initiated by their master into these divine mysteries; and here,
Simon ben Jochai expired with this heavenly doctrine in his mouth, whilst
discoursing on it to his disciples.
Scarcely had his spirit departed, when a dazzling
light filled the cavern, so that no one could look at the Rabbi; whilst
a burning fire appeared outside, forming as it were a sentinel at the entrance
of the cave, and denying admittance to the neighbours. It was not till
the light inside, and the fire outside, had disappeared, that the disciples
perceived that the lamp of Israel was extinguished.
As they were preparing for his obsequies, a
voice was heard from heaven, saying, "Come ye to the marriage of Simon
b. Jochai, he is entering into peace, and shall rest in his chamber" A
flame preceded the coffin, which seemed enveloped by, and burning like
fire. And when the remains were deposited in the tomb, another voice was
heard from heaven, saying, "This is he who caused the earth to quake, and
the kingdoms to shake!"' His son, R. Eliezer, and his secretary, R. Abba,
as well as his disciples, then collated R. Simon b. Jochai's treatises,
and out of these composed the celebrated work called Sohar . . i.e., Splendour;
which is the grand storehouse of Kabbalism. (Appendix. The Kabbalah: Doctrines,
Developments and Literature. pp.181-183.) kabbalah.htm.