Rte 89: Tombs of the Righteous, Safed, Israel

Although a bit like a treasure hunt, seeking out Tombs of the Righteous can lead you into wooded areas in the Upper Galilee. Biriya Forest, behind the ancient town of Safed and the 100-year-old village of Rosh Pina, has numerous Tombs to explore. Look out for white domes, under which you will see Hebrew lettering. If the tomb is one of the more popular ones, you will probably see bits of cloth and material tied onto the entrance, put there by past visitors. Two of the sites where the Tombs of the Righteous are located also have boutique wineries at the same location.

Cool Tip: Combine fruit of the vine tastings and visits to sacred tombs.

Recommended accommodations:

Boutique Spa Hotel in the GalileeĀ 

 

No tour of the Galilee is complete without visiting at least one or two tombs of the righteous. Pilgrimage to Jewish holy sites is a growing phenomenon in Israel today. The ancient tombs belong to rabbis and tzaddikim who lived or were buried in the land. Some graves belong to tzaddikim who died elsewhere and were transported either physically or spiritually to the Holy Land. Some graves bear special significance and it is said prayers may help infertile couples, or single men and women looking for a spouse.

Directions: The tour begins in Safed. Go on Rte 89 North and exit at Biriya, approximately one kilometer north of Safed. The first two stops are Amuka and Biriya, which are close to each other.

Map of Holy Places in Israel

[1] Moshav Amuka

  • Yonatan ben Uziel. One of the more popular tombs, some say that Yonatan ben Uziel never married. Others say that although he was not a bachelor, he was not blessed with offspring. Either way, over the years, his tomb has become a prayer place for the unmarried seeking a mate, and for the childless seeking the blessings of parenthood.

CoolAlthough visited all year, the date of 26th of the month of Sivan, is considered a special pilgrimage day. Separate entrances and praying areas for men and women.

[2] Moshav Biriya

  • Beniho ben Yehudiya: Located on the side of the road inside the moshav.
  • Abba Shaul and his wife: Located inside the moshav on a small road on the left of the main road.

CoolWinery Alert: Biriya Winery.

Directions: Return to Rte 89 North (right turn onto Rte 89). Turn right onto Rte 886. Look for turn off on right to Dalton. Follow signs. Dalton is approx. 5 km north of Safed.

[3] Moshav Dalton

  • Rebbe Yossi HaGalili, A Wise Man with a Generous Heart.

CoolWinery Alert: Dalton Winery.

[4] Gush Halav (Gish in Arabic)

  • Yoel the Prophet. At the entrance to Gush Halav, on the Sasa-Safed road, approx. 4 km north of Meon Junction on Route 89.
  • Parents of the Rashba. One of the best known holy tombs is the grave of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. Not far from there, is the tomb of Yochai and his wife, Rebbe Shimon's parents. Customary to gather and pray here during L'Ag B'Omer or the 33rd day after Passover.

[5] Moshav Ben Zimra

  • Reb Yossi Ben Zimra, lived in the 3rd Century during the transition period between the Tannaim and Ammoraim.His daughter married the son of Rav Yehuda HaNasi. Apparently she was so beautiful that although the young suitor had committed himself to 30 years of Torah study before marriage, he reduced his years of study to a mere six upon seeing her for the first time. When he saw her yet a second time, he decided to first marry her and then study Torah!

CoolWinery Alert: Four boutique wineries are located on Moshav Ben Zimra.

Directions: Return to Rte 886 and turn right. Alma is up the road on the right.

[6] Moshav Alma

  • Rebbe Elazar ben Azariya, Man of Torah and Righteousness; President of the Sanhedrin. Unlike other tombs in the area, the tomb of this erudite, wise and wealthy scholar is very modest. Look out for a large oak tree and under it two whitestones with a simple plaque.Located inside the moshav on Route 886. Approximately 9 km north of Safed.
  • Rebbe Yehuda ben Tima. Located inside the moshav on Route 886. Approximately 9 km north of Safed.

Directions: Return to Rte 886 and turn right. Follow the windy road to Tzomet Junction and turn left onto Rte 899. Follow 899 (also called the Northern Road since it borders on Lebanon), until you reach Baram on the right. Enter the kibbutz and follow signs.

[7] Kibbutz Baram

  • Queen Esther. Legend says that Queen Esther is buried here. Follow signs in the kibbutz.
  • Mordechai HaYehudi. Mordechai, Esther's uncle, is said to be buried here. Follow signs in the kibbutz.
  • Ovadia the Prophet. On the Northern Road, about 5 km northeast from Hiram Junction, at the antiquities site of Kfar Baram.

CoolBaram National Park is a few kilometers down the road and worth a visit. Learn about the Arab village once located here. Inhabitants of the Christian Arab village were promised that they would be allowed to return one day to live here. See the magnificent Galilee synagogue from ancient times.

Directions: Return to Rte 899 and turn right. At the junction with Rte 89, turn left. Gush Halav is a few kilometers down the road on the left. Enter the village of Gush Halav.

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