Tzfat is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of 900 meters (2,953 ft), Tzfat is the highest city in the Galilee, and in Israel, and is known as one of the four holy cities in Israel, together with Jerusalem, Tiberius and Chevron.
Tzfat has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus. The Jerusalem Talmud mentions it as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. Tzfat attained local prominence under the Crusaders, who built a large fortress there in 1168. It was conquered by Saladin twenty years later and demolished by his grandnephew al-Mu'azzam Isa in 1219. After reverting to the Crusaders in a treaty in 1240, a larger fortress was erected, which was expanded and reinforced in 1268 by the Mamluk sultan Baybars, who developed Safed into a major town and the capital of a new province spanning the Galilee.
After a century of general decline, this stability brought by the Ottoman conquest in 1517 ushered in nearly a century of growth and prosperity in Safed, during which Jewish immigrants from across Europe developed the city into a center for wool and textile production and the mystical Kabbalah movement.
Due to its high elevation, Tzfat experiences warm summers and cold, sometimes snowy, winters. Its mild climate, scenic views and enchanting Old City with cobblestone alleys, have made Tzfat a popular holiday resort frequented by both Israelis and foreign visitors. In 2019 it had a population of 36,094.
Tzfat's Spiritual Energy
When one enters Tzfat's enchanted Old City and tours its colorful lanes and alleyways, visits its art galleries and meet its mystics, enters the ancient synagogues and breathes the air….he feels the magic…that special and almost indescribable spiritual aura that overtakes a person….This is the same aura the great Mystics described when they established Tzfat as the ultimate place for revealing the concealed wisdom of the Kabbalah.
In the 16th century, one of the Holy Ari’s students, Rabbi Avraham Azoulai, wrote of Tzfat's special atmosphere: "Tzfat was the ideal place for attaining the deepest secrets of the Torah and its foundations, because there is no cleaner or purer air in all of the Land of Israel." (Rabbi Avraham Azoulai, "Hesed L'Avraham"). The Kabbalists stress Tzfat’s connection with the element of air, one of the four elements of Creation. This explains the pristine and pure air of Tzfat, which together with its special spiritual atmosphere, overwhelms all of one's senses. Each one of the four holy cities in the land of Israel: Hebron, Tiberius, Jerusalem and Tzfat, is connected with one of Creation's elements: earth, water, fire and air. Because Tzfat is associated with the element of air, it provides a meaningful and uplifting spiritual experience for all dimensions of the soul.
Tzfat's name itself has several explanations:
1. "Tzfat", from the Hebrew word "Tzafun", which means hidden, and concealed. Therefore Tzfat is especially appropriate for studying hidden wisdom.
2. "Tzfat" from the verb in Hebrew "Tzofe" – to view and see distances in time and place. This explains the "Tzipia" – the anticipation and yearning for the Redemption of the soul and the world that appears in the Kabbalistic literature of Tzfat.
3. "Tzfat" from the Hebrew word "Tzafon" – north; for the northern wind. In the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the holiest of sacrifices were offered at the northern end of the Altar, which hints at Tzfat being the place where the holiest wisdom can be achieved.
In Kabbalistic literature, Tzfat is connected with the Sefirah of Eternity (Netzach) and on a higher level the Sefirah of the Crown (Keter), which illustrates the inspiration Tzfat provides for the highest levels of the soul. So it is no wonder that anyone who visits Tzfat feels as though they have arrived in Heaven.
Today, this special experience of Tzfat and Kabbalah are available through the Tzfat kabbalah Center. Come and experience the world of spirituality, mysticism and authentic Kabbalah together with the enchanted beauty of Tzfat.