Nachum Ish-Gamzu

Tombsite of Nachum Ish-Gamzu

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by Chana Katz

Whether it's raining or scorching sun, this too is a good time to visit the tombsite of Nachum Ish Gamzu. And not just because the famous Mishnaic sage would always say of everything that befell him: "Gam zu l'tovah" - "this too is for the good."

Anyone who has not lately visited the gravesite of the sage who served as Rabbi Akiva's mentor and teacher for 22 years will be pleasantly surprised to see the redwood pavilion and other accommodations recently added to the site.

It used to be that one could drive right past the grave on Ish Gamzu Street in southern Safed and miss it with a blink. Perched in the middle of a pretty, tree-filled residential neighborhood, the simple stone wall surrounding the grave and the five steps leading up to it, were very unobtrusive.

Now, the attractive pavilion provides a wooden canopy overhead, benches for entire tour groups to sit comfortably and shelves with books for prayers and psalms.

Still, the opening of the grave itself is only wide enough for one or two to huddle directly in front of it. On a recent day, a young mother who lives not too far away came to pray there with her two young children. She visits the site often.

Two famous stories from the Talmud featuring Nachum Ish Gamzu are inscribed in stone along the outer walls of his gravesite.

Visitors hope to gain a glimmer of Nachum's noted conviction that not only is everything that happens "eventually" for the good, but that the very moment and thing that is happening "is also" for the good.

[Chana Katz, a former South FLorida journalist, lives in Tsfat. Her articles on life in Israel have reached publications throughout the world.]

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