The history of Safed is “only” 900 years long, a young city in the Land of Israel, but its importance and contributions to Judaism are enormous. Here, in the 16th century, was the city’s short golden age, as great intellectual figures of the Jewish world concentrated here and made some of the most important contributions to Jewish thought which affect us to this day. The book “Shulchan Aruch,” which is the basis for understanding the mitzvot and halachot of Judaism, is written here, and the main ideas of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, were also born and shaped here.
Not in vain is Safed considered as one of the four holy cities of Israel (in addition to Jerusalem, Tiberias, and Hebron). To this day, there is an inexplicable sense of holiness and spirituality that is nourished by the special atmosphere in the alleys of the Jewish Quarter, from its special synagogues to the wonderful surrounding landscape.
Safed is one of the most popular tours in the North of Israel. Our tour in Safed will be composed of two axes. The first is the Jewish axis – things between halachah and kabbala. Only about 80 meters separate the synagogue of Rabbi Yosef Karo, who wrote “Shulchan Aruch,” from the synagogue of the Holy Ari who established the Lurianic Kabbalah. However, there is an vast distance between these two fundamental concepts on which Judaism rests. How could it be that in such a short period, such different and contradictory concepts were born in the same place?
The second axis will be the historic axis. The city history is mainly known for two periods: the golden age of the 16th century and the end of the War of Independence in 1948. We will learn about the sources of the city’s flourishing and its transformation into an important spiritual center in the 16th century. On the other hand, we will understand the desperate state of the city and its transformation in April 1948, with the arrival of the Palmach’s Salvation Department.