Safed Tzfat Tsfat Zefat, the Cradle of Kabbalah
High in the Galilee Mountains, the ancient city of Tsfat (also spelled Safed, Zefat, Tzfat, Zfat, Safad, Safed, Safes, Safet, Tzfat, etc.).
overlooks Mount Meron - the city of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai known as the “Rashbi”. A visit to the city of Safed (Tsfat) - with its magnificent mountaintop setting and fresh, clean mountain air, is a heavenly experience.
Safed is a picturesque city of spiritualists and artists, wrapped in mysticism and mystery, and steeped in sacred atmosphere.
Tsfat is a city steeped in holiness, where ancient history has left its mark on the area, etching greatness and glory into each step and stairway.
Safed is one of the four holy cities in Israel. It has been a spiritual center since the 1600s when it was the center of Kabbala (Jewish mysticism). The Kabbalist mystics lived, studied, taught, and wrote in the city and many of the graves are objects of veneration.
Here, in Tsfat, the Ari Hakadosh lived and learned Kabbalah;
Here, Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the Shulchan Aruch;
Here, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz greeted the Shabbes Queen with his holy song, Lecha Dodi.
Among the more famous are counted Rebbe Moshe Cordovera (the Ramack), Rebbe Chaim Vital (Etz Chaim), and his master Rebbe Isaac Luria, the Arizal, and Rebbe Yosef Caro (the Shulchan Aruch).
The Ari is credited by many as being one of the most important interpretations of the mystical work The Zohar, with major innovations in how it can be understood and applied.
Residents of Tsfat and Meron are a unique group of people who perpetuate the influence of past gedolim, leading lives sanctified with the study of Torah and Chesed. They are simple people like those who lived here two centuries ago; their lives revolve around the Torah and its laws. The spirit of superficiality currently breezing through our generation has passed them by, leaving a pure and untainted culture behind.
Though they may subsist on meager fare, food for the soul there is plenty, and their simple lives are sanctified by the dedicated performance of mitzvahs.
In the Old City one can even today visit the synagogue that the Ari is said to have prayed in and learned in, and taught in. His final resting place is in the Tsfat cemetery. Nearby is a fresh water spring which the Ari is said to have used as a mikve (ritual bath) during his lifetime. To this day it is called the Mikve Ari.
The ancient picturesque alleyways of the Jewish quarter contain hidden niches and beautiful synagogues whose rich past emanates from the high ceilings, colorful decorations, and ancient Torah scrolls.