Tzfat is such an historical place, with a cemetery containing graves from many hundreds of years ago. And these are just the ones we know of! Being from the United States, which was founded in 1776, this seems just amazing to me. So many famous and influential people in the history of Jewish thought are buried here. Their influence has been both positive and negative. Some of their writings have inspiring thoughts, but they are sprinkled with false teaching. Just the other day, I was reading some of the writings of a famous rabbi. The book is modeled after the menorah and it is broken down into seven sections: 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.
While this sounded good and motivating, after reading a little deeper, I found that his writings were infused and influenced by the zodiac! This is a good reminder that when you read ANYTHING besides the Word of G-d, remember that any other writing is a work of man and you must be diligent to pray and filter out those things which do not align with the Bible.
The teachings which came out of the city of Tzfat were very influential in shaping Judaism today. Unfortunately, much of the new age, mystical writings and thought developed here. Here is some information from Wikipedia:
Following the upheavals and dislocations in the Jewish world as a result of anti-Judaism during the Middle Ages, and the national trauma of the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Jews began to search for signs of when the long-awaited Jewish Messiah would come to comfort them in their painful exiles. In the 16th century, the community of Tzfat in the Galilee became the centre of Jewish mystical, exegetical, legal and liturgical developments. The Tzfat mystics responded to the Spanish expulsion by turning Kabbalistic doctrine and practice towards a messianic focus. Moses Cordovero (The RAMAK 1522–1570) and his school popularized the teachings of the Zohar which had until then been only a restricted work. Cordovero’s comprehensive works achieved the first (quasi-rationalistic) of Theosophical Kabbalah’s two systemisations, harmonising preceding interpretations of the Zohar on its own apparent terms. The author of the Shulchan Aruch (the normative Jewish “Code of Law”), Yosef Karo (1488–1575), was also a scholar of Kabbalah who kept a personal mystical diary. Moshe Alshich wrote a mystical commentary on the Torah, and Shlomo Alkabetz wrote Kabbalistic commentaries and poems.
The messianism of the Safed mystics culminated in Kabbalah receiving its biggest transformation in the Jewish world with the explication of its new interpretation from Isaac Luria (The ARI 1534–1572), by his disciples Hayim Vital and Israel Sarug. Both transcribed Luria’s teachings (in variant forms) gaining them widespread popularity, Sarug taking Lurianic Kabbalah to Europe, Vital authoring the latterly canonical version. Luria’s teachings came to rival the influence of the Zohar and Luria stands, alongside Moses de Leon, as the most influential mystic in Jewish history.
I definitely do not agree with these writings, but thought you might like to read a little bit of history from this town in the Northern Galilee.