Safed (also spelled Safed, Zefat, Tsfat, Zfat, Safad, Safes, Safet, Tzfat, etc.) is located in Northern Israel, 900 meters (3200 feet) above sea level in the mountains of the Upper Galilee, it commands magnificent views east to the Golan.
For a long time Safed has been a well kept secret, even to most Israelis. However, according to the great mystics of the past, Safed is to play an important role in the final redemption. The Meam Loez, in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, says that the Messiah will come from Safed on his way to Jerusalem. The Ari HaKodesh said that until the Third Temple is built, the Shechinah (God`s Manifest Presence) rests above Safed.
Its past is also rich and great. According to legend, Safed is where Shem and Ever, son and grandson of Noah, established their yeshiva where Jacob (Yaakov Avinu) studied for many years. According to other sources, the town was founded in 70AD. The city flourished in the 16th century, when many famous Jewish religious scholars and mystics moved to Safed following the Spanish Expulsion, fleeing from the horrors of the Inquisition. Safed then became the spiritual center of the Jewish world, where Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) reached the peak of its influence. It was here that the first printing press in the Middle East was set up, publishing in 1578 the first Hebrew book to be printed in Israel.
Safed is one of the four holy cities in Israel, together with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. The old part of town consists of narrow cobblestone alleys revealing artists` galleries, medieval synagogues, private homes and small guest houses.
Despite its natural beauty and charm, to truly appreciate Safed requires an intimate, holy and Jewish connection, which requires work. Like a beautiful yet modest woman, her real charm is hidden and only made available to the special few who merit her attention. Yet it is this modesty, humility and sense of purpose that makes Safed special.