R Leib Baal HaYsurim

Among the closest and most outstanding students of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Baal HaTanya, founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement, when he emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he was one of the founders of the Jewish community in Hevron, the City of the Patriarchs. When he reached an advanced age, he moved to live in the Holy City of Tzfat, where he passed away on the 15th of Marcheshvan 5597 (the year of the earthquake). Prior to his passing, he commanded that anyone suffering from distress or misfortune (G-d forbid) could come to his gravesite to pray for salvation and his prayers would be answered. Many Jews have done so over the generations, yet no one knows how he received the title Baal HaYsurim (master of afflictions).

Tzfat Kabbalists Section:


The Ari Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

Born in Jerusalem, he was a student of the holy Rabbi Moshe Cordevero. After the passing of his mentor, he started elucidating the wisdom of kabbala. The Ridbaz told him that he should not engage in the esoteric teachings of Torah publicly, because it was far too deep and scholarly. The Ari did not put his teachings in writing, rather he transmitted them orally to his outstanding student, R Chaim Vital, who later compiled the Aris words for public use. He lived in the Holy City of Tzfat for about a year and a half, and passed away there on the 5th of Menachem Av 5332, at the age of thirty-eight. 



The Ramak Rabbi Moshe Cordevero

Teacher of the great and holy Ari, he wrote several kabbalistic texts, foremost among them Tomer Devora. The holy Ari relates that when he brought his teacher to his resting place, the bier was escorted by two pillars of fire, an occurrence known to be revealed to only one or two people in a generation. He passed away on the 23rd of Tammuz 5330.




R Shlomo Alkabetz

Teacher of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (the Ramak), he composed Lecha Dodi, the hymn sung by all Jews during the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer. He also wrote Manot HaLevi, a commentary on the Book of Esther, prepared in honor of his engagement and sent to his father-in-law as Mishloach Manot on Purim.





HaMabit R Moshe Mitrani 

An outstanding student of R Yaakov Beirav, he emigrated to Tzfat at the age of eighteen. After the passing of his mentor, he took his place and spread Torah to his community for fifty-four years. He passed away in 5345 at the age of eighty, and is buried near the Ari, of blessed memory. Among his works: Kiryat Arba on the Rambam, Beit Elokim an interpretative text on Jewish ethics.





Rabbi Yosef Caro 

Among the principal students of Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, he is the author of the Beis Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), accepted as the authoritative halachic text by all Jews throughout the world. Similarly, he wrote other works, such as his text on the Rambam Kessef Mishnah. Rabbi Yosef Caro, whose daughter married the Aris son, passed away on the 13th of Nissan 5335, at the age of eighty-seven. 

Cave of the Sages of Tzfat



The Holy Rabbi Moshe Alshich

The student of Rabbi Yosef Caro, compiler of the Shulchan Aruch, the Alshich is the author of Torat Moshe, a commentary on the Tanach. The holy Ari, of blessed memoey, said that he saw the Heavenly entourage coming to hear the discourses of the holy Alshich, and therefore, he too came to listen to his pure and holy words. R Moshe Alshich was the teacher of R Chaim Vital, who was also a prominent disciple of the holy Ari. He passed away on the 13th of Nissan 5360.




The Tanna R Yehoshua ben Chananya 

One of the students of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai mentioned in Pirkei Avot (2:8), he is the R Yehoshua referred to throughout the Talmud. He was a man of fine personal attributes, regarding whom it is said Fortunate is she who gave birth to him. It is said that when his mother was pregnant with him, she would go to the study halls and ask the Torah scholars to pray for her unborn child that he should grow up to be a Torah scholar. After he was born, she would not remove his bed from the study hall, in order that he would always hear the words of Torah.



Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair

One of the Tannaim whose discussions appear throughout the Babylonian Talmud. He was related through marriage to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. According to one version, he was his father-in-law, according to another his son-in-law. While Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairs Talmudic statements are few in number (he is mentioned only eight times), nevertheless, they are characteristically deep in content, and deal in most cases with matters of ethics and the refinement of ones personal attributes.

Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair would say: Since the destruction of the Holy Temple, the members and free men are put to shame, those who conform to the Law are held in contempt, the violent and the informer have the upper hand, and no one cares for the people or asks pity for them. Upon whom can we rely? Upon our Father in Heaven".

Says Rabbi Zeira in the name of Raba bar Zimona: If our ancestors were angels, we are human beings; and if they were human beings, we are donkeys, but not like the donkey of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, rather like other donkeys.

In addition, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzattos seifer Mesillat Yesharim is based upon one of his sayings: Torah leads to carefulness; carefulness to diligence; diligence to cleanliness; cleanliness to retirement; retirement to purity; purity to piety; piety to humility; humility to fear of sin; fear of sin to holiness; holiness to the reception of the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit to the Resurrection of the Dead.


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