Safed- A city full of Mystery
Safed is a city full of Mystery located in the Galilee region, at northern Israel. It is the center of the Jewish Kabala.
What does the word “safed” means? צפת in Hebrew is taking from the verb -to view (Litzfot לצפות) probably because its located on top of a mountain with altitude of 834 meters above sea level. With comparison Jerusalem Mountain is “only” 650 meter above sea level!
On the 11 century the Crusaders came here during their mission to conquer Jerusalem and built one of the largest fortress in the east on Safed hill.
On the 13th century Bibbers, the Mameluke Muslim leader conquered it and built a very high tower in the middle of the fortress that according to the stories could view the Mediterranean Sea.
On the 15th century Jewish people who lived in Spain had to decide…
Queen Isabelle announced that the citizens of Spain could only belong Christianity. Jewish people had to choose whether to convert to Christianity or leave the country. About 100,000 Jews were expelled from Spain. They were forced to immigrate to other countries around the world, such as Turkey, France, Italy, and so on.
The leaders of the Jewish community decided to immigrate to the Holy land -to a place called Safed .
The tales of Safed
On 1492 Expulsion of the Jews from Spain Jews had to leave Spain unless they confirmed to convert to Christianity, why did the Jewish leader choose to leave to Safed ? they had two reasons. First, next to Safed, on Myron Mountain, there was a tomb of a famous rabbi, Shimon bar Yochai. This is an iconic man who wrote the mysterious book "the Zohar."
The second reason is about branding…Safed's wool and textile industry was a brand name, lets say its like today Gucci and Loui Viton. If you want to follow up with the world fashion, you must have a fabric from Safed.
Safed's golden age began in the 15th century as it was considered as the center of Kabbalah and the hidden wisdom. The theory of Kabbalah is a philosophical method and a religious, moral concept. In short, it is all about hidden layers in the bible text and in the universe.
Safed is also called the city of the “Ari”. The Ari was Rabbi Isaac Luria. He was born in Jerusalem in the 16th century. After his father died when he was 8 years old , he moved with his mother to his uncle house in Egypt. His uncle was rich. Isaac studied Torah and got married at the age of 15. He loved to be isolated and had a cabin on the Nile's bank where he would relax and look at nature. At 16, he began to learn the secrets of Kabbalah that were recorded in the Zohar book and decided to immigrate to Safed at 16 years old. He studied with a famous Cordoba rabbi. After the Rabbi died, he replaced him and became a great teacher. He taught his student the importance of being humble, loving each other and being kind to the universe.
According to the stories about him, he could see every person soul when looking at him.
Jewish people of Safed turned their hats down on their foreheads, so the rabbi could not read what was written on their foreheads. He had twelve students. He did not write any book. He died after two years, but the knowledge he gave to the world was significant. He was a revolutionary and made a revolution in the way of thinking, emphasizing hard work, the bible, and love of nature and each human being.
When you visit Safed, you should visit the “Ari” synagogue. Ari in Hebrew is a “lion” that is why you will see lion figure on the ark of the torah. The synagogue has a hole because of gunshot shrapnel in the 1948 war, at that time the synagogue was full of worshipers and luckily no one was hurt.
Kabbalah and Hollywood
The mystical side of Judaism is also followed by some of the world celebrities. Madonna study it and even received a Hebrew name during her studies, “Esther”. Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Mila Kunis and much more, find the Kabbalah interesting and learning from this method. Traditionally it was believed that due to the book complex, only a person that exceed the age of 40 can open the Zohar book and start learning The Kabbala. However, in the past years it gains popularity and the wisdom, and the deeper understanding of life attracts younger people as well.
Safed and Blue
When you walk trough the alleys of Safed, you will see many houses colored with blue color. There are three reasons for this.
First reason, this is a spiritual city, the color blue represents god, sky and spirituality.
Second reason, blue color is known as "keeps fly’s away”. The insenct can not see it and the continue to the next spot.
The best reason… there was a men from Portugal who fell inlove with a local Safed lady and wrote her a letter. “I love your City Safed. The blue color, remind me of the beautiful sky in your city, the walls and your beautiful eyes”.
What to wear?
When visiting Safer, take modest clothes. Due to its high spot, you need to bring something warm to wear during the wintertime.
What to eat?
There are some falafel’s, shawarma, local “Malawach”, pizza and local cheese (a must try). Just stroll around the old city and go to the main circle that called “kikar hamaginim”- the square of the defenders.
From there walk down the stairs until you see art galleries, this is where you will find beautiful local art and the local food that I mentioned.