Tombs of Sages - Sfat

High up on Mount Cana'an is the mystical city of Tsfat (Sefad), one of the four Jewish holy cities mentioned in the Talmud along with Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron. According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes, he will pass through Tsfat on his way to Jerusalem.

The city has been the centre for Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism for centuries and many Jewish sages and mystics are buried in and around the city. During the 16th century many of the leading Jewish rabbis fled the Spanish inquisition and made their home here.

Rabbi Yitzhak Luria (known as "Ha'Ari" or "Arizal") lived and studied here during the last two years of his life. He is remembered as one of the most important contributors to the Kabbalah as it's known today. There are two synagogues in his name - the Ha'Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue and the Ha'Ari Sephardic Synagogue.

Many people come to the Jewish Cemetery to visit the tombs of sages (tzaddikim) - as well as Rabbi Yitzhak Luria (Ha'Ari), there is Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (the "Ramak"), who was his teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, who wrote Lecha Dodi, sung on Friday nights and Rabbi Yosef Caro, who wrote the Shulchan Aruch, to name a few.

Look out for the building in the picture below on the road just outside the city. You will find here the tomb of Rabbi Judah bar Ilai who was one of Rabbi Akiva's five principal students. Inside the building, you can visit the cave where he is buried.

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