The greatness of the city of Tzefas

The greatness of the city of Tzefas:[1]

Rebbe Avraham Azulaiy, a great Kabbalist of the late 16th and early 17th century, a student of Rav Chaim Vital, taught the following regarding the greatness of the city of Tzefas and its advantage over other cities in Erertz Yisrael. He himself was a resident of the city of Chevron:

  • The city of Tzefas was one of the cities of refuge “Ir Miklat”
  • The city of Tzefas corresponds to the name “Ehyeh”, which is in the level of keser and represents the 13 attributes of mercy.
  • The city of Tzefas was designated for people to study and comprehend the depths of the Torah and its foundations.
  • There is no air in Eretz Yisrael as clear and refined as the air of the city of Tzefas.
  • Tzefas is the Gematria of Kemech which comes to say “Im Ein Kemech Ein Torah.”
  • Whoever lives in Tzefas has the following advantage over the residents of other cities, as one who passes away there, his soul speedily travels to the area of the Mearas Hamachpeila from where he is transferred to Gan Eden Hatachton.

Does the Shechina reside in Tzefas:

There is a rumored teaching, which is repeated in the name of Rav Chaim Vital, that after the destruction of the Temple the Shechina moved from Jerusalem to Tzefas. To this date, no such source for this teaching has been found in the teachings of Rav Chaim Vital, or any other Sefer. It was not recorded in the work of Rav Avraham Azulaiy, who was a student of Rav Chaim Vital, even though he writes an entire column listing the greatness of the city of Tzefas over other cities, including Jerusalem. Ironically, one of the prime students of the Arizal omits this very important piece of information that all the real estate agents seems to know. It is likewise omitted from the talk of the Rebbe, in which he discussed at length the greatness of the city of Tzefas.[2] Nowhere does the Rebbe mention this known statement which was so called said by Rav Chaim Vital. Furthermore, we find sources which directly contradict the above notion, such as 1) The Talmudic[3] description of the ten journeys the Shechina made as results of the sins of the Jewish people until the destruction of the Temple, and no mention is made of Tzefas. 2) The Talmud[4] also states the Shechina went from Jerusalem to the house of Rav in Bavel, and continues to reside in the Shul’s throughout the world, as well as that it mainly resides in “Beis Rabbeinu Shebibavel” which is the main shul of the leader of the generation. As well, it contradicts the statement of Chazal that the Shechina never left the Western wall, and hence remains in Jerusalem even today. In fact, The Chasam Sofer[5] attributed the great earthquake of Tzefas in 1837 due to vengeance of Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world, against those who chose Tzefas over it. In his words “The vengeance of Jerusalem caused this, as there in Jerusalem is the gates of Heaven…and the Shechina has not left from there..and they have left Jerusalem abandoned and come to Tzefas.” Accordingly, there is no room in Jewish thought to believe that the Shechina left Jerusalem and is now found in Tzefas, which contradicts the sayings of Chazal and belittles the city of Jerusalem, until an explicit reliable source can be found to attest to such a statement, in which case it would need to be analyzed as to how it does not contradict the previous statements in Chazal. What is true however, is that there are various levels and gradations of the Shechina which can be found in different places. For example; the western wall contains one level of the Shechina, while the shul’s around the world contain another level, and the main Shul of the leader of the generation contains the main level. Thus, the Shul’s in Tzefas certainly have the Shechina reside on them just like the Shechina resides in the rest of the Shul’s in the world, however we find no room for the notion that Tzefas contains the main Shechina which left Jerusalem.

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[1] Chesed Leavraham Nahar 13; Recorded in Likkutei Sichos vol. 17 p.515

[2] Likkutei Sichos vol. 17 p.515

[3] Rosh Hashana 31a

[4] Megillah 29a

[5] Drashos of Chasam Sofer

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