Monday, 11 March 2019
Safed (pronounced S'fat, with the short "a" as in Adonai ) is the "city on a hill." Today I want to tell you about this city in Northern Israel. Safed is really the Arabic pronunciation for that place. In Hebrew it is Tzafat.
From it's nickname, "City on a Hill," you might suppose it is at the highest elevation of any city in the Galilee (2,953 ft. above sea level; which might seem higher since the Sea of Galilee itself is about 700 ft. below sea level). You would be correct.
We should all identify with Safed. Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."
Because of its elevated position, it was one of 5 cities (this is mentioned in the Talmud) which lit signal fires to announce new moons and festivals during the Second Temple period.
Rabbi Trail: The Talmud is rabbinical writings also known as the "Oral Torah". It is made up of 2 parts. First came the Mishna (written around 200BC), which is commentary on the Holy Scriptures, the Hebrew Old Testament, TANACH, Torah, Prophets and Writings. Then, 700 years later, around 500AD, the Gamorah was completed. The Gamorah
is commentary on the Mishna (which makes it commentary on the commentary). The Talmud is not part of the canon (authorized books of the Bible), although many Jewish people treat it as if it is. End RT.
Safed was made a fortified city in the 12th century by the crusaders and served as a capital city of the Galilee region by succeeding regimes continuously until the British assumed control of Palestine at the end of WWI.
Notably, in the 1500s it was granted the lofty (pun intended) position as one of Judaism's "Holy Cities" (there are four, Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron being the other 3). Also in the 1500s, Rabbi Luria made Safed a center for Kabalah (Jewish mysticism).
In modern Israel it was the site of a critical battle during the War for Independence. There are no Arabs that live there today. Tourists visit Safad to see the archeological significance, the many ancient synagogues, and the artist colony there. In particular it is where the micro-calligraphy art form was perfected. See this link http://www.tzfat-kabbalah.org/experience.asp?p=1288.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,