From Zefat to Biryah: More Than Just a Stroll

Yehudit Knauer

I suggest that those who would like to stroll and learn more about Zefat, that you take a half day, or a full day, to take in some inviting spots in our holy city. The holy Sages, Beniahu ben Yehoyada, Yehudah Ha Nasia, Abbaya and Rava, Rav Papa and his ten sons, and others, plus an historic site in Biriya, await your visit.

From the Egged Station, walk along the exit road from Zefat, continuing past the Sonol Gas Station to the big intersection. At the intersection, take the middle road straight ahead; not left to Meron nor right to Rosh Pina. The burial place of Beniahu benYehoiada, chief of staff under King David and King Shlomo, as well as head of the Sanhedrin under the latter, will appear on the left side of the road.

Continue to the top of the road. At the circle, veer left. A tree-lined flat road (trees on the right side) takes you to a crossing where signs pointing to the right lead to Fort Biriya. Walk along that right-hand road (if you were to continue straight you would end up in Amuka!) for a short distance until you come to the entrance to Fortspan Biriya on your left. There you may find an exhibit of history portraying the time of the settlement and defense of this area. Barbeque facilities and picnic tables in the shade offer a pleasant place to stay a while and enjoy the view of Mount Hermon.

Return to the road and continue until the end, which is an entrance to an army base. Just before the base, on the left, is a gentle uphill slope that leads to an exquisite expansive view north to Mount Hermon and southward to Lake Kinneret

Continue on this path until the cave which is the burial site of Abaya and Rava, leading sages of the Babylonian Talmud. They were friends, colleagues and disputants on hundreds of points on Torah.

Above their cave is the burial place of Yehudah Ha Nassia, who established the fixed Jewish calendar around 1500 years ago, a grandson of Rebbe Yehudah Ha Nassi.

Still further on the path and over a fallen tree (which hopefully will have been removed by the time you read this) is a cave, set into the hill with army radar plates above it. This is the burial site of Rav Papa, an important Talmudic sage, who ascribed his wealth as a brewer to the fact that he married into a family of priests. He had ten sons, all of whom were great scholars and mentioned in the Talmud. Tranquility permeates the atmosphere.

As always when touring, take lots of liquid, food, head coverings and comfortable walking shoes.

Buy guidebooks to Safed and the Galilee at the Kabbala Online Shop.

Yehudit Knauer moved to Tzfat from Northern California fifteen years ago. She spends much of her time driving visitors to the many holy sites in the Tsfat area.

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