Note: This image is not a view in Tzfat. It looks similar, but it was taken by me in Hawaii. I am still looking for a right image. We did not bring a camera to Israel. I had my reasons. Therefore, I do not own any images from our trip.
During our travels in Israel, we decided not to rent a car. Instead, we used public transportation. And sometimes taxi services. We really wanted to feel the energy of the people around us, of the land, and get a better grasp of the places we were traveling through.
One of my hidden desires was to understand how people who had lost everything in WWII—families, homes—and were prosecuted and put through unbearable pain were still able to build this country. I wanted to learn and understand what gave those people such endurance and strength.
After all, they were my tribe. We were coming from the same roots. I really wanted to connect to the spirit of this brave nation in hopes that I too will find something within me to start to rebuild my life.
During our stay in Jerusalem, my husband was able to locate relatives in Tel Aviv. We called them and asked if we could drop off our luggage. They happily agreed and offered us to stay overnight in their home. That was a terrific option for us too.
In the morning of the next day, just carrying our son’s backpack, we took a bus from Tel Aviv to Tzfat.
Tzfat—Here We Are
Tzfat is located in the southern part of Upper Galilee. Tzfat is also known as the city of mystics. It is known as the highest city in Israel, about 3,000 feet above ocean level. It got its nickname because it’s considered to be the center of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah.
The travel to Tzfat was peaceful and comfortable. The bus was very well air-conditioned. The seats were comfy, and observing the locals was very informative. We were like sponge soaking everything in.
After we were dropped off at the bus station, we were left without knowing where to go next. We had no plans. No plans! That was our approach. And we kept it!
Tzfat is a very hilly town. Repeat: a very hilly town! I am not a “hilly” person. I don’t like hills. I love flat. Anything to do with climbing—not my element. Do not like it. (Do not invite me to go hiking.:)) And do not ask me to see rooms on the second floor of your house regardless how amazing they may be. Not going to happen.
Yet here we were, facing a deep hill that was just in front of us. The bus was gone. We did not have breakfast, as we were leaving early. Now we were getting hungry. As we stood at the foot of the town, I suddenly felt a pull to the right side.
I went with the energy of the pull and ended up right to a sign that pointed to the old cemetery. I understood at that point that for some reason I needed to go to the old cemetery. We called a taxi and asked him to drop us in any local diner just to grab something to eat. He waited for us outside, and then we were driven to the cemetery that was located on the hillside below the Old Jewish Quarter.
I did not know why I was called to go there; however, we spent several hours walking between graves. Some of them were painted in a sky blue color, others in a darker blue. I noticed that I would stop and spend more time over one grave more than another.
After a few hours, I felt that strong pull of energy again taking us out of the old cemetery to another place. I followed the pull and ended up at the long line of steps where it took us to the street above the old cemetery. Did I mention that I hate stairs? Yet here I was, climbing stairs . . . a very long line of stairs . . . in the middle of August. It was late morning already. Thus, it was getting hot. Slowly we made it up and ended up in the small street with a small market.
The small marketplace was made up of several tables selling various objects. There was one table with five to eight jars with signs asking to help children left without parents. My husband and I left donations in each jar and started to walk along the street.
The Spirit of Tzfat
As we were walking, suddenly I felt that I needed to turn left. We did. There I found a small gate, entered it, and found another gate leading to a very small cemetery located right on the slope of the hill.
I noticed a single small marble bench right on the edge. It was calling me. I came closer, and the panoramic view of Galilee opened up.
It was spread out in front of me and was utterly breathtaking. The view was simply a stunning beauty. There was something in the air, as if G-d’s presence was next to me. The wind was coming from the mountains and brushing right against my face.
There was something very special about that wind. I sat on the bench, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath of the wind. I felt an incredible peace entering my soul. I felt that I could sit here for hours and hours and hours.
I don’t know how long I was sitting with my eyes close and just enjoying the wind and the sun touching my face. Suddenly I heard someone calling out my name. I opened my eyes, but no one was around me.
The voice (a very soft one, with some echo as an undertone) told me to take out my notebook and start to write. So I did. This is what was recorded:
“Ella, Ella! Life on Earth is just a small point of a short time. Eternal life—eternal light—is what awaits us. Don’t rush. We will come to you.
Eternal life, eternal light, and eternal soul. One G-d, one soul, one destiny of many. Come to G-d, that is the path of men and women. G-d waits, calls, loves, and protects.
Your son is with us. He is safe. You shall continue your path, be blessed, be guided, be healed, be loved, come back. Now go, G-d bless. We are the spirit of Tzfat” (12:25 p.m.).
That was my first introduction to the spirit of Tzfat. This was also my first experience with hearing the voice within the wind.
Never before have I had such a vivid experience with hearing the wind and experiencing unexplainable pulls of energy that came to me as I stood right on the edge of the hill of Tzfat.
After the wind stopped talking to me, I stood in awe. It was just a feeling of “wow” and more. I was still under the “spiritual influence” when I felt a light knock on my shoulder. I turned around; once again there was no one next to me.
Yet I started to feel a strong pull. It was “dragging” me somewhere. So I followed. When I reached one of the graves, it stopped. I stood there trying to understand what was happening.
The text was written in Hebrew language, so I could not understand what it said, but based on the unified look, I knew it was a military cemetery.
The grave by which I stopped was in the first row and was the third from the right. I did not know why I was pulled there until I saw the number 18, and I understood that the soldier buried there was the same age as my son.
I did not understand the connection between my eighteen-year-old son and the eighteen-year-old soldier. However, I knew that somewhere out there was another mother missing and mourning her eighteen-year-old son. I wished that I could meet her and tell her that I fully understand her pain. I wished I could give her a hug too. How is she? But maybe she already was next to her son.
The pain once again overwhelmed me, and tears started to flow again uncontrollably. I could not stay still any longer. I left the cemetery and went back to the streets in search of a stone.
I was looking for a stone to put on the young soldier’s grave to pay my respects. According to our tradition, we do not bring cut flowers to the grave; we bring stones or rocks.
After I found a suitable rock, I came back and placed it in the center of the ledger. Then I spent another fifteen minutes just watching the view of Galilee. I was not ready to go yet.
Then time came, and I felt that I needed go. As I was leaving the cemetery once again, the wind spoke to me and told me that one day I should come back. Here. To this cemetery. So the spirit of Tzfat was not done with me yet.
My husband and I did not go anywhere else that day. That was all that we visited at Tzfat. The only thing we did was purchase a white silk scarf with gold butterflies on one side and silver butterflies on the other at that small marketplace. As I was buying this scarf, I heard a whisper in my ear.
“Remember, eternal life, eternal light.”
We called up the same taxi driver and asked to be taken back to the bus station. The bus was about to leave when we got dropped at the bus station. We were very fortunate as there was no wait time for us. We safely arrived at Tel Aviv several hours later.