“Kever Rashbi” (Tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai)
Nestling in the pastoral mountains of the Upper Galilee, the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Israel.
History of the site
known also as “The Rashbi” (רשב”י), Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai lived in the early 2nd century. An avid student of Rabbi Akiva, the Rashbi opposed the Romans, and so had to hide in a cave near Pekiin. Living on water and charob tree fruit, Rashbi and his son Elazar lived in that cave for 12 years, studying Torah. His burial place near Meiron, 10 miles west of Peqiin, is first mentioned by 13th century sources. In the 16th century the Jews of the nearby town of Safed developed the tradition of a public assembly at his tomb on Lag Ba’omer.
The current tomb building was built in the 19th century and was enlarged several times since. It is recognizable by the blue domes, and the local white stone used in its construction. In its center are the tombstone of the Rashbi, and his son, Elazar.
The most popular pilgrimage day of the year to the site, is “Lag Ba’omer”, the 33rd day after Pesach. During this day, known as “Yom Hilula” (יום הילולה), tens of thousands of Orthodox and Haredi Jews assemble at the place for prayers. At night a major bonfire is lit, followed by dancing. Many will also set first haircut of their 3 year old boys on that day (“Galacha“) during the festive day.
Touring Kever Ha-Rashbi
The tomb of the Rashbi is a very popular Jewish pilgrimage destination in Israel, second only to the Western Wall. It is open every day of the week and has no entrance fee. Men and women can reach the tombstones from opposing directions, where continuous private and public prayers are conducted.
Visiting the Rashbi Tomb can be combined in a guided tour of the North.