During an outing during the week of Passover we visited the cave of Rebbi Shimon in the historic town of Pekiin, and also visited the gravesite of Rabbi Oshaya nearby. It was a very lovely spot indeed, and quite moving to see the crowd of folks who arrived to pray in this special spot.
Not far from our home in Northern Israel there is a forest called the Baal Shem Tov forest, and within that very forest is a very special place: the burial site of the Tanna, Rebbi Shimon Ben Manasya. We visited this site in the Spring (though I am just getting around to sharing it with you now, sorry about that!) and with not a soul in sight we enjoyed every minute of this little adventure!
As it turns out, most of the burial spots of great sages tend to be located in special places with amazing views, and this site is no exception, you must visit sometime if you ever find yourself driving the road between Meron and The Holy City of Tsfat!
Above: View of the gorgeous topography of the Galillea, from a lookout point on the road to Pekiin, looking southeast.
Tonight we ushered in the very special holiday of Lag B'Omer, which celebrates and honors our great sage Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai, also referred to as Rashbi. So there is no better day than to share with you photos of our little trip to the town of Pekiin, to visit the cave where Rebbi Shimon and his son Elazar hid from the Roman persecuters after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
This is a very special spot, located actually on the other side of Mt. Meron from the town of Meron, (where Rebbi Shimon is buried, and where as we speak tens of thousands of people are arriving from around the country and around the world for the festive Lag B"Omer celebration.) Certainly worth a visit, and for those of you who won't likely be making the trip anytime soon, keep reading for some more armchair traveling!
This Passover vacation we took small trips close to home, and at long last visited some favorite sites that I hadn't been to in at least 15 years, and thus had yet to share with my little ones. Introducing one of my all time favorites, the burial cave of Elkana, the father of Shmuel HaNavi (Samuel the Prophet)! It is almost hard to wrap one's head around the fact that this site, on the road between Tsfat and Meron, in the Northern Gallilee area called Kadita, is thousands of years old! (!0th Century BCE) As with all historic burial caves, a small building has been erected over the cave, to designate the site and provide shelter for visitors who may choose to stay awhile and pour out their hearts.
This Passover holiday I have the personal goal of visiting some of the many holy sites that are very close to our home and that I have visited many years ago, but never with my family! We pass the Idra Raba Cave every time we visit Meron, and yet I have never been successful at getting my husband to stop the car for a visit. Until yesterday that is, when this very special historical spot was actually our destination! The Idra Raba Cave can be found on the Tsfat-Meron road, around 10 minutes west of Tsfat, and was discovered by the Ari HaKodesh, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria in the 16th century!
In this cave sometime around 70 CE, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his 9 students studied the Kabbalistic secrets that were incorporated in the Zohar, especially the part called “Idra Rabba” [the Great Idra]. The Ari HaKadosh and his students also gathered in this spot, and it was here that the Ari also revealed to his students deep and hidden secrets. A stone structure was built over the cave to mark its location and to identify the spot as well as make it accessible.
We are in the middle of our Passover holiday, and blessed with fantastic weather, we have been able to explore some gorgeous spots not far from home. At long last I was able to convince my husband to visit the gravesite of the Tanna, Yehuda Ben Taima, located on a somewhat remote hilltop in the moshav of Dalton. Yes, in case you are familiar with good Israeli wines, this is the same Dalton as the very good wine, do try it if you haven't! (This area in the Galil has weather much like that of the Napa Valley, though a bit colder, and also produces excellent grapes, and award winning wines.) Whoops enough about wine, back to more about this very special Tanna, and his amazing burial site, that should not be missed!
Yesterday we took a trip to Haifa to take care of some personal business, and while we did not end up visitng the new IKEA there (which is maybe for the best, it's a dangerous place for me $$$ wise!) my daughter and I checked out the fabric stores on Hertzl street, in preparation for some sewing lessons, possibly for us both, we visited some relatives, caught a glimpse of the Mediterranean sea, and on the way home just as the natural light was getting dim, thus putting an end to my crocheting in the car, we stopped off to "visit Rebbe Shimon" namely to visit the very famous tomb of our great sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, not far from our home.
Today is the memorial anniversary for Rachel Imeinu, affectionately referred to as Mama Rachel. While the Jewish people have more than one mother, Rachel, on account of the trials and tribulations she faced during her life has become the universal Jewish mother, the one that a person would be inclined to go to for comfort and to shed some tears. And let me tell you, last night at her gravesite, in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) not far from the edge of Jerusalem, tears were indeed shed. Many many tears.
My daughter and I embarked on a trip from our home in the North of Israel to reach Rachel's gravesite on this very day (Jewish days start at night, so we arrived actually last night) and we don't regret one moment of the long bus ride or the discomfort of being squeezed into a tight crowd, it's all part of the experience.
Today is the yahrzheit, hillula, (the memorial anniversary of the day of passing) of our dear Rachel Imeinu, one of the mothers of the Jewish people. Sooooooo, just like last year, my daughter and I boarded a bus for an 18 hour trip which encompassed all four holy cities in Israel, and included a visit to Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) to the gravesite of Rachel.
Let's start with a photo journal of our visit to Chevron (Hebron) the gravesite of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sara, Rivka, and Leah. As well as Adam and Chava (Eve). Rachel is the only one not buried here, but rather a 30 minute drive away, in Beit Lechem, where she has been visited for 3,000 years!
As we continued our day-long trip visiting holy sites in Israel on the yarzheit of Rachel Imeinu, (more about that on my previous post here) we at long last reached the Tomb of Rachel, Kever Rachel, located on the road between the Holy Cities of Hebron and Jerusalem, just next to Bethlehem, Beit Lechem, about 4 miles southwest of Jerusalem. And no surprise, we were not alone in our desire to visit Mama Rachel on the anniversery of her passing, an estimated 70,000 people came to pray at her tomb on this day, wow!