but not consumed

Today was the hillulah of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai. Lag Ba'omer. The 33rd day of the Omer and the 18th day of Iyyar.

Masechet Shabbat 33b describes the story of how Rabi Shimon escaped the Emperor's edict of death. The story involves a number of miracles and wonders, but it also involves some curiosities that I wish I knew more about. Until I do, I will present here a number of questions: 
  1. I find it interesting that he buried himself to his neck with sand, in hebrew the word for sand is synonymous with something mundane or unholy. 
  2. Why could he learn Torah unclothed but fully concealed, whereas one must pray fully clothed? Does halachah support this idea? What do clothes have to do with prayer? Clothes represent the mitzwoth, so how does this tie in to prayer?
  3. When they leave the cave, he is shocked that people involve themselves with worldly affairs. The expression he uses is chayay sha'ah. This is an expression (that at least) the Komarna uses regarding prayer [and yichudim.] 
  4. When the Bat Kol chastises them for destroying the world, the word used has the same root as the Karab tree with which they were provided. (as well as being a veiled reference to Har Sinai (Horev.) Which is referenced later when Rabi Shimon says to his son that the two of them suffice the whole world for Torah learning.)
  5. The second time they meet a Saba involved in preparation for Shabbath. [Saba is also a term for a person on a very high spiritual level, that of bitul to ayin.]
  6. Finally, the state in which they left the cave, where Rabi Shimon would heal whatever Rabi Elazar would ignite, is reminiscent of the imagery of the burning bush that was alight but was not consumed.


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