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Tzefat

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 - 3:50 pm

Tzefat is one of the 4 holiest cities in Israel. Even though the weather was a bit rainy it did not damper our trip one bit. As we entered the city, Yoni showed us some tall high rise style buildings. Yoni explained that the Rebbe sent emissaries to Tzefat with the directive to build Tzefat like an American city. That is why they built taller apartment buildings, because that is what they are used to in NY.

Our first business in hand was to eat lunch. During lunch we had some visitors. Bryna returned to see us, as well as Tzvi’s sister, Sara’s brother and Riki’s cousin. Some of us enjoyed pizza and others falafel. But we all enjoyed an ice cream treat – thank you Mrs. Brown.

Tzefat’s history dates back to the 16th century and that is when Tzefat developed its spiritual personality. But before we go back to that time, let’s look at some more modern history. In 1947 when the UN voted for statehood for Israel Arab countries and Israel where preparing for an inevitable war. Tzefat was no different. Until this time the Jews and the Arabs did get along and lived side by side in harmony. Unfortunately now politics got in the way and when the British pulled out of Tzefat in April pf 1948 there was a battle to gain control of Tzefat.

Israel attempted to blow up a British police station, but 3 soldiers lost their lives in that attempt. Interestingly Israel; used the Davidka, a weapon that shot mortars to win the battle. They only had 3 of these weapons, but kept moving them around to give the impression of having more. The Davidka’s bark was worse than its bite. In 1948 the memories of the atomic bomb where very much alive and the Arabs believed the rumors that Israel had developed one and was shooting it at Tzefat. This assisted Israel in securing Tzefat before the War of Independence. We stood outside the Davidka and the police station as we heard of the miracles that Hashem performed for Tzefat.

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Our 1st stop was the Arizal Askanazi shul. The Arizal was a famous kabalistic rabbi who lived in Tzefat. There are 2 shuls that have his name. One is sephardi and one ashkenazi and the Arizal davened at neither one because they were not built when he was alive. The Arizal shul that we were in was built in a spot that the Arizal and his students would go to every Friday and greet Shabbat. They spent hours davening to Hashem in the fields that overlooked Tzefat. It was here that his students, R’ Shlomo Alkibetz composed Lecha Dodi and R’ Eliezer Azkari composed Yedid Nefesh.

Rabbi Kosofsky explained to us about kabala and the way that we use kabala to see all of the things Hashem created and how every time we do a mitzvah we are bringing this special light into the world. We mentioned there that we daven nusach Ari in school. In 1948 a rocket was shot into this shul. B”H it was shot as ‘Barchu” was being said. The man standing near the bima bent and was not hit. The shrapnel flew in and lodged in the bima. You can still see the mark it left today as a reminder.

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Next we stood outside the Kosov shul which was dedicated to the community in Kosov that perished in the Holocaust.  This is also the shul where a famous story occurred when the Arizal was alive. In brief the Rabbi had talked about the lechem hapanim and how it was a gift of bread for Hashem. A simple Jew used to then put challah each Fri. in the aron and a poor Jew would take them each Fri. night. The simple Jew thought G-d took them and the poor Jew thought G-d gave them. Eventually the secret was found out. This is the basis for the PJ story Bagels for Benny

Our next stop was the Abuhav shul. This shul was originally built in Toledo, Spain. The Jews from this shul walked from Spain to Tzefat after the expulsion. Their desire was to build a shul just like the one in Spain. They bought together a plot of land and began to plan.  Every time they gathered to plan they argued over the design. One night after an especially heated fight each Jew went home and prayed for a solution. The next day when they came to the site, they could not believe their eyes – the shul was there. If you cannot believe that, wait until you read this. A few weeks later they received an apology letter from their friends back in Spain, who wrote that they don’t not know what happened to the shul. The letter was dated the day the shul arrived. Believe it or not!!

In Tzefat we visited the famous candle factory and bought more souvenirs.

Comments on: Tzefat
2/20/2019

Mrs Zolotor wrote...

Hello everyone in Israel! That’s so nice that you were able to see so many family members. How special! I’m looking forward to seeing the souvenirs you bring back. See you soon!😀