Dot... Letter... Word...
The text in bold-face presents the words of Likutei Moharan, and the text in regular font presents the commentary of Likutei Moharan Hamevuar, by Rabbi Yehoshua Gross.
Likutei Moharan: Prologue
“Go gaze upon the deeds of Hashem” (Psalms 46:9): a wondrous revelation of the secret of the greatness of the Godly Tanna, Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, may his memory be for a blessing.
Rabbi Shimon ben—“son of”--Yochai promised that because of him the Torah would not be forgotten by the people of Israel.
As is related in the words of our Sages, may their memory be for a blessing: “When our Sages entered the vineyard in Yavneh”—the study hall where they sat in rows, like vines in a vineyard (Rashi)--“they said: In the future, the Torah will be forgotten by the people of Israel. As the verse states, ‘Behold, days are coming, states Hashem God, that I will send a hunger into the land—not a hunger for bread and not a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem’ (Amos 8:11). And the following verse states, ‘[People] will move from sea to sea and from the north to the east, wandering, seeking the word of Hashem—but they will not find it’ (ibid. 12). ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to halachah. ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to ‘the end of the exile.’ ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to prophecy. And what is the meaning of the fact that people will be ‘wandering, seeking the word of Hashem’? The Sages said: In the future, a woman will take a loaf of terumah bread to the synagogues and study halls to find out if it is impure or pure. But no one will understand.” (The Talmud discusses at length why the Sages will be unable to answer her question.) “But Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said that it—the Torah—will not be forgotten. As the verse states, ‘For it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his—the Jewish nation’s--offspring’ (Deuteronomy 31:21)” (Shabbat 138b).
And the reason that the Torah will not be forgotten by Israel is, as explained in the Zohar: “With this work, the book of the Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile” (Zohar, Nasso 124b).
Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai composed the Zohar. We see from this quote that the Torah will not be forgotten by the Jewish people because with its help the Jews will recall the words of the Torah and perform the mitzvot while in exile, and it will ultimately help them emerge from exile.
To sum up, our Sages thought that the Jewish nation would forget the Torah because they foresaw that the Sitra Achra—the “Other Side” of Evil—would gain so much strength at the end of the exile that it would be difficult for Jews to recall the words of the Torah and stay faithful to it.
But R. Shimon ben Yochai replied that through the teachings of the Zohar that he revealed the Jewish nation would not forget the Torah—even at the end of the exile.
And now, come and see and understand the wondrous secrets of our holy Torah. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai quoted the verse, “For it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring.” That is because in truth this verse itself alludes to and conceals the secret that via the offspring of Yochai—that is, through Rabbi Shimon, son of Yochai—through him, the Torah will not be forgotten from the nation of Israel. This is because the end letters of the words in this verse are letters that, when rearranged, spell out the name Yochai.
And so the verse, “for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring,” hints and reveals specifically that “from the mouth of his offspring” is a reference to the mouth of the immediate offspring of the person alluded to in this verse—that being to the son of the Tanna Yochai.
This is because, through the immediate offspring of Yochai, who is alluded to in the words of this verse in their final letters (as mentioned above)--that immediate offspring being Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai—through him, the Torah will not be forgotten, for “with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile” (as above).
And know that the secret of Rabbi Shimon himself is alluded to in another verse, for know that the holy Tanna, Rabbi Shimon, corresponds to the verse that relates a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in which he saw “an [eternally] wakeful, holy [angel] descending from heaven” (Daniel 4:10). The beginning letters of each word in this phrase, when rearranged, form the word “Shimon,” etc.
 A Tanna is an early Talmudic sage (pl., Tannaim). A later Talmudic sage is called an Amora (pl., Amoraim).
 Likutei Halachot (Hilchot Nezikin, 4:13), writes:
The entirety of the Zohar [consists of] rectifications and vessels [containing spiritual light] that [the Sages] drew down in their great and holy understanding. Through it, we attain Divine insights, which constitute all of the ways of the holy kabbalah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and his students revealed.
Therefore, “with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile.” Then [the verse] will be realized, “As in the days of your coming forth out of the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders” (Michah 7:11).
In the Exodus from Egypt, the redemption came about through our teacher Moses, because at that time he revealed Divine insights to us in wondrous ways (cf. the beginning of Likutei Moharan I 30). Now as well, in this final exile, which is harder and more difficult, God will in His compassion redeem us by means of all of the secrets of the Torah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and his colleagues revealed, which are vessels and constrictions that make it possible for us to apprehend Divinity. T hey bring about the essence of the healing of [our] soul and bring about its physical and spiritual redemption.
We still do not have any [real] knowledge and understanding of the secrets of the Torah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai revealed in the Zohar and Tikunim. Nevertheless, they [effect] a great rectification for our souls, for [Rabbi Shimon] made and prepared wondrous vessels and great rectifications for us via the ways of the holy Torah that he revealed. As a result, whoever wants to strive to seek God, be may He be blessed, may easily attain Divine insights by means of the ways, vessels and rectifications that [Rabbi Shimon] revealed.
In order to draw down Divine insights, a person needs a number of constrictions—“vessels” and “rectifications.” Due to the sin of Adam and the [spiritual] damage caused by [subsequent] generations, it is impossible to complete the rectification completely in one generation.
Thus, the greatest of the tzaddikim strive in every generation to draw down wondrous rectifications and leave a blessing behind them, so that it will be easy for the final generation to come to [God], may He be blessed, if they wish to seek Him.
And therefore after [we received the Zohar from] the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, we received the writings of the Ari, may his memory be for a blessing, who revealed more wondrous rectifications. And in our own generations we [were sent] the great tzaddikim from the days of the Baal Shem Tov, may his memory be for a blessing, until now.
A spiritual seeker of Hashem can understand something of all of the mighty and powerful deeds of the great, select tzaddikim who have acted to bring about rectifications for us in every generation. That constitutes the essence of our life and hope, for we revive ourselves with the remnant of holiness that these great, true tzaddikim have left for us via their students.
 Chayei Moharan (passage 189) states:
At the time that [Rebbe Nachman] traveled to Uman, he stated: “Still and all, Hashem helps Israel always, and no generation is left orphaned. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai spoke [about this]. When a Tanna said, ‘In the future, the Torah will be forgotten by [the nation of] Israel,’ Rabbi Shimon replied, ‘No, for with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will come forth from exile, “for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring.”’”
[Rebbe Nachman went on to] speak about this verse, revealing the secret that was [subsequently] published at the beginning of Likutei Moharan I regarding the greatness of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
I said to [Rebbe Nachman], “Rabbi Shimon certainly has pleasure from this”—i.e., from this wonderful original insight.
[Rebbe Nachman] replied: “Yes.”
Afterwards, he said, “Rabbi Shimon himself is something different, for Rabbi Shimon is ‘an [eternally] wakeful, holy [angel] descending from heaven.’ And at the present moment there exists a ‘river welling forth, a wellspring of wisdom’ (Proverbs 18:4).”
[The acronym of this phrase is “Nachman.”] And Rabbi Nachman had already been heard to describe himself as a river that purifies all stains.
Yaacov David Shulman
New! Jewish Spiritual Growth: The Step-to-Step Guide of a Hasidic Master