Many of the
Jewish holy sites
in Israel are in the Galilee. Visitors from all over the world come to pray and light candles by the tombs of sages (tzaddikim). In particular, in Tiberias, Tsfat (Sefad) and on nearby Mount Meron.
Tiberias is one of the four Jewish holy cities mentioned in the Talmud along with Jerusalem, Sfat and Hebron. According to Jewish tradition, the resurrection of the dead will begin here after the coming of the Messiah. Read more ...
About a 20-minute drive away from Tiberias, high up on Mount Cana'an is the mystical city of Tsfat (Sefad), and another one of the four Jewish holy cities. It has been the center for Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism for centuries and many Jewish sages and mystics are buried in and around the city. Read more ...
Just outside of Tsfat you come to Meron, built on the slopes of Mount Meron. It is one of the most important Jewish holy sites because of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (the "Rashbi") and his son Elazar. He lived in the 2nd century CE and was one of Rabbi Akiva's principal students. He is known as the greatest of all mystics and his name is linked with the Zohar (Book of Splendor), the most sacred book of the kabbalists.
Below the tomb of the Rashbi and his son Elazar is a cave where Hillel and some other of his students are buried.
On the Jewish festival of Lag b'Omer, hundreds of thousands of believers gather on Mount Meron to commemorate the Rashbi's death in a celebration known as Hillulah HaRashbi according to his wishes. Bonfires are lit and there's dancing and music throughout the night. People camp out on the hillside before the holiday so that they can get close to the Rashbi's tomb. It's also tradition to bring boys here to have their first haircut when they reach the age of three.
Rabbi Jose ben Halafta, often referred to as Rabbi Yossi, was a Torah scholar and teacher of the Mishnah in the 2nd century CE. He was one of Rabbi Akiva's five principal students after the plague which killed most of his students. He studied together with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai but he was a less controversial figure and managed to survive the Roman occupation.
How to get there
Take route 85, which runs past Karmiel, and turn off at Halafta junction. You will see immediately on the right, two tombs next to a very old tree. One is in the name of Rabbi Jose ben Halafta and the other is also in his name together with his son.
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Entering the Promised Land
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