Open to All: Burial in the Ancient Cemetery of Tzfat
The northern municipality of Tzfat (Safed) has begun to expand the famed and hallowed ancient cemetery on the slopes of its steep Galilee mountainside - and Jews in Israel and worldwide have the opportunity to be laid to rest next to the great Jewish Sages from 2,000 years ago. Among them are Tannaim (Mishnaic sages), Amoraim (between 1,800 and 1,400 years ago) and Kabbalists.
Moti Dayan, representative of the Hekdesh of the Tzfat municipality, spoke with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine about the merit of being buried there. “Purchasing a burial plot during one’s lifetime is a merit for longevity," he said, "and purchasing a plot in Tzfat is a merit for life in the World to Come. According to the great sage Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (the Hidah), Tzfat is a direct pathway to Lower Gan Eden.”
Dayan said that there have been no burials in the ancient cemetery for over 50 years, but "we decided recently to expand the cemetery and give contemporary Jews the opportunity to be laid to rest here.”
At the upper slopes is the site of the famed mikveh (ritual bath) of the Ari with its crystal clear spring waters.
Among the great leaders buried in the Tzafat cemetery are Talmudic Rabbis Yehoshua ben Chananya and Pinchas ben Yair, as well as Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the holy Arizal), Rabbi Yosef Karo (author of the Shulhan Arukh Code of Jewish Law), Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (author of Tomer Devorah), Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (author of the famous Lecha Dodi song), and Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, a Chief Rabbi of Tzfat several centuries ago.
Last week, on the 5th of Av, thousands flocked to pray at the Arizal’s grave on the occasion of the 438th anniversary of his death.
In another area of the mountain cemetery are the graves Rabbi Leib Baal HaYisurim, an outstanding scholar who was the first Chabad follower to emigrate to the holy city of Hevron, as well as of the Olei HaGardom - the pre-State members of the Jewish underground who were hanged by the British.
The modern section of the cemetery, located at the foot of the mountain, is under continual construction and expansion. The 22 school children murdered in the Maalot massacre of 1974, residents of Tzfat, are buried there. Entire communities from abroad have purchased collective plots in the new section.
Translation: Chaya Chava Shulman and INN Staff.