Driving Through History in the North (pt 1)

I remember once speaking with somebody who did not believe that the Torah was true, until she went to Israel.  On her tour she was shown many places throughout Israel and where they were mentioned in the Torah.  She went back to the US a different person.

It is easy to be amazed by the historically/religiously significant places in our own backyard.  Over the last few weeks we have touring the Galil but have only scratched the surface.

Here is a little history and some pictures of where we have been:

Starting out from Ma’alot and heading down 864 about 5 minutes from our home is the first stop – the Tanna Osha’aya Ish-Tirya’s kever.   Osha’aya’s kever is right off the road, like most keverim, and if your not looking for it (or the sign) – you ‘ll miss it.

Being a Tanna means that he lived sometime after the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash (70 CE to 200 CE).   His name is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi and in various Midrashim which have been engraved and are positioned around the kever area.

Osha'aya Tomb

The Kever (blue) of the Tanna Osha'aya Ish-Tirya

Drive another  5 minutes down the road and in Pek’in is the famous cave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elezar.  They stayed in the cave for fear of the Romans for 12 years and ate only carobs and water.  There are carob trees still grow around his cave today!   Many years ago there was an earthquake which shifted the rocks and now the cave only big enough to fit 3 people.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's cave

The cave that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai lived in with his son Elezar for 13 years

The spring that he used to drink from had also been disrupted by the earthquake but now surfaces in the middle of Pek’in’s residential area and is a popular place for Druze children to play.

The "spring" of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

The "spring" of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Pek'in

In Pek’in lives the only family in all of Israel that has lived in the land of Israel – continually in the same city – since the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash two thousand years ago, and that is the Zeynatis family.   Mrs. Zeynatis is the sole resident and she manages the local synagogue for minyanim and tours.

The Story of Pek'in

On the 65 (just south of 85) near Kadarim you will find the keverim of the navi Habakkuk and Rabbenu Bechaya off the same “exit”.   Habakkuk was one of the last prophets in Tanach.   At his kever there is a good supply of Tehillim (like all well-maintained keverim) and laminated sheets of his prophecy.

The kever of Habakkuk the navi

Also in the same area, Rabbanu Bachaya and his students are buried on this picturesque hillside.   Rabbanu Bachaya is a Rishon, was nifter in 1340, and has a very popular commentary on the Torah.

Rabbanu Bachaya's kever

The kever consists of two parts – the square building with the dome (right) which is actually the entrance to the cave which is under the big blue dome to the left.  The big blue dome is positioned over a hole that goes down to the cave.

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