Famous Synagogues in Tzfat

The Abuhav Synagogue.

The Abuhav Synagogue is a 15th century synagogue in Tzfat. It is named after 15th-century Spanish rabbi and kabbalist, Isaac Abuhav. Its design is said to be based upon kabbalistic teachings.

Rabbi Abuhav wrote a very famous book called “Menorat Hamaor” (The Light of the Menorah) was enthusiastically accepted by all the different sectors in the nation, and many editions of it were printed. It was used as the basis for weekly study on Shabbat in the synagogues in Yemen. The book is modeled after the Menorah in the Temple, and it has seven sections, called the “Seven Lamps.” Here are the names: The First Lamp – not to pursue luxury. The Second Lamp – not to open the mouth with sinful talk. The Third Lamp – to observe the mitzvot. The Fourth Lamp – about study of the Torah. The Fifth Lamp – about repentance. The Sixth Lamp – about the paths of peace and love. The Seventh Lamp – about humility, and the sin of humiliation. While this sounds very interesting and instructive, unfortunately he also wrote many things related to the zodiac, etc.

The Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue

The Ari Ashkenazi synagogue was built in memory of Rabbi Issac Luria (1534 – 1572), who was known by the Hebrew acronym “the ARI”. It dates from the late 16th-century, it being constructed several years after the death of Luria, a great kabbalist who arrived in Tzfat in 1570. The synagogue is known for its colorful and ornate Ark (where the Torahs are held). It may be the oldest synagogue in Israel that is still in use.

The Ark at the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, Tzfat.

The Ari’s tradition of welcoming the Sabbath during Kabbalat Shabbat is still echoed in Jewish communities around the world during the singing of Lecha Dodi, when worshippers turn toward the entrance of the synagogue to “greet” the sabbath.

Above, you will see a hole covered by plexiglass. It Hebrew are the words “Nes HaRasees”, which means “Miracle of the Shrapnel”. This took place during the War of Independence in 1948 and it is where shrapnel from a rocket went through a window right when someone was bowing during the “Barchu” prayer. If the man had not been bowing in prayer, he would have been hit by the shrapnel.

Ha Ari Bet Midrash

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