Tsfat (Safed), Israel

When the Kabbalah is a Victim of Itself

holy bookcase
Jewish religious books fill the shelves of the Abuhav synagogue.
Literary Compensation
Religious studies one of the sacred books of Judaism in the synagogue of Abuhav.
a central bimah
Six steps, allegedly equivalent to working days a week, lead to the top of the synagogue bimah.
jewish art
Yacoov Kaszemacher, one of the many artists who settled in the increasingly popular Tsfat.
Synagogue facade
Inevitable religious and decorative elements of Judaism in the Abuhav synagogue.
an ultra-orthodox resident
Hasidic Jew walks through a Tsfat-covered alley, also called Safed or Zafad.
Synagogue sign
Happy family
Meirav, Ronen and their son Nahman, together in their Tsfat bar and spice shop.
Symbolic curtains placed in front of the Torah ark of the Abuhav synagogue, one of several in Tsfat.
jewish woman
Jewish woman in one of Safed's many art stores.
Safed or Tsfat
Panel celebrates considering Tsfat, Safed, the world capital of Jewish spirituality and culture.
art mezuzah
Mezuzah posted on a city gate. Mezuzahs identify the Jewish ownership of a home and its connection to God.
In the 50s, Tsfat brought together the artistic life of the young Israeli nation and regained its secular mystique. But famous converts like Madonna have come to disturb the most elemental Kabbalist discretion.

It's still early morning when we leave Tiberias and the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee, heading north.

We are relieved by the less active period of Hezbollah forces present in villages in southern Lebanon, so close there and estimated to have over 50.000 missiles aimed at Hebrew territory.

The first views of infra-surroundings village differ from what we expected to find.

we face each other with a huge service station. Just after, we penetrated in a somewhat uncharacteristic house, even if, in part, with a tone similar to that of the yellowish sandstone facades prevalent in this region. 

In the last meters of the course, we crossed with busy pedestrians, many of them Jews Hasidic, identifiable by their black robes. 

an ultra-orthodox resident

Hasidic Jew walks through a Tsfat-covered alley, also called Safed or Zafad.

The road climbs a steep slope. We finally realized that we've come to Tsfat, the highest of all the cities of Israel, located at 900 meters of altitude, on top of the third mountain of the country. 

Shortly after, the main road narrows. It flows into a small car park. stay there the Tsfat road.

From then on, we were left on our legs and in the vast labyrinth of cobbled and colorful alleys to which the village surrenders.

From Entering Safed to Discovering the Most Creative Judaism

At a glance, we find ourselves strolling among souvenir shops and often tiny art galleries, crammed with artefacts, paintings, illustrations and photographs of all kinds.

At the door of one of these galleries, wearing a black skullcap and suit and white hair that extends to a long beard that is also white, Yacoov Kaszemacher radiates well-being and sympathy.

jewish art

Yacoov Kaszemacher, one of the many artists who settled in the increasingly popular Tsfat.

His paintings and photographs of traditional and ultra-Orthodox Jewish life are so expressive that they keep us close to the author. “Come in! There are many more inside, I can see that they are sensitizing you.”

Yacoov ends up guiding us through the gallery. Instigated by the series of questions we ask him, he exposes part of his life to us.

Son of Polish parents, he was raised in a secular home in post-war Paris. In the city of light, he got used to going to nightclubs and socializing with musicians, artists and philosophers who were first disciples of the Beat Generation, later of the Flower Power generation.

He is proud of his long self-learning of painting and photography techniques. And the way his style evolved with bold colors, expressions of mystical themes, somewhat mathematical.

Yacoov takes up another of his life's choices: “in the late 60s I began to be interested in spirituality. I evolved from a hippie to a Torah student Hasidic Jew. And in 1971, I moved to Israel.

I added Jewish and Kabbalistic motifs to my work, which gradually became meditative.


Symbolic curtains placed in front of the Torah ark of the Abuhav synagogue, one of several in Tsfat.

A lot of what you are seeing are images that reflect Jewish feelings and life in Israel, Tsfat and Hasidism.”

The Military and Millennial Genesis of Safed

His determination to establish camps in Safed, or Zefad – as the city is also known – was shared by many other artists and religious. Even if, in an intermittent way, they had been coming from the four corners of the world for a long time.

Safed was founded in the XNUMXnd century BC as a lighthouse village (masu'of), part of a chain of places atop elevations with signal fires lit to mark the beginning of a new month or holy days.

This chain extended to Jerusalem. Later, the Crusaders built a citadel at the site that allowed them to control the route to Damascus.

In the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, Safed began to assume its mystical function.

Migration of Jews from Iberia to the Promised Land

By that time, thousands of Sephardic Jews had fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition.

Many of those who settled in the city were Kabbalists, a kind of seekers of occult truth, rational philosophers, also interested in science and medicine.

Rabbi Isaac Luria would later prove to be their leader. He founded Kabbalah (the word means tradition) based on Jewish texts from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries generated in southern France and Spain.

art mezuzah

Mezuzah posted on a city gate. Mezuzahs identify the Jewish ownership of a home and its connection to God.

and the Mystic Development of Kabbalah

The reinterpretation of these texts sought to find answers to the questions that most intrigued the Jews including the true spiritual cause of their expulsion from Iberia.

Luria (aka Ari) left no writings. An assistant recorded the essence of his teachings. They professed that to create the World, the Infinite had been damaged in order to make room for Creation.

As a result, sparks of the Divine Light fell from their original position and were at risk of being used by Evil. The Jews could restore the Divine Light and repair the Infinite if they carried out 613 commandments.

holy bookcase

Jewish religious books fill the shelves of the Abuhav synagogue.

Moses' ten would be just a beginning.

This interpretation gave the Jews a way to understand, as part of Evil, the horrors of the Inquisition and its expulsion. He showed them that they should react by looking for a higher spiritual awareness that would allow them to repair the World.

It is obvious that, at this point in our own learning of Kabbalah, we are inclined to think that Evil has largely triumphed over the desired reparation.

This was the indictment of the most evil historical events ever recorded on the face of the Earth, those of the Holocaust.

The Abuhav Synagogue, the Temple at the Religious Core of Kabbalah

We enter the synagogue district of Tsfat. Of these, we give priority to the most important in the city, Abuhav.

It is estimated that it was erected by followers of the eponymous rabbi, in 1490, with a configuration based on Kabbalah: four central pillars representing the elements at the base of Creation, ten symbolic windows in the dome of the Commandments, images of the twelve tribes of Israel that enunciate the Jewish unity.

a central bimah

Six steps, allegedly equivalent to working days a week, lead to the top of the synagogue bimah.

And still paintings of pomegranate trees, a fruit that usually has 613 seeds.

The Jew in charge of guarding the temple welcomes us with a shalom effusive enough, limited by the concern to impose on us the use of a skullcap and a petticoat.

Let us investigate the temple and photograph at will. He returns to the depths of his Kabbalistic studies, his head practically buried in a huge aged book.

Literary Compensation

Religious studies one of the sacred books of Judaism in the synagogue of Abuhav.

Founder Isaac Luria was always against an excessive dissemination of Kabbalah, at first accessible only to married Jewish men over forty.

The Internationalization and Popularization of Kabbalah among the World's Famous

Against its will, the Jewish Diaspora ended up disseminating its precepts throughout the world and among personalities that, had they been its contemporaries, would certainly banish them.

In 2009 and 2012, the newly converted Madonna had concerts scheduled for Tel Aviv, none of them on Friday night, when the Jewish sabbatical begins.

He received a previous letter from Rabbi Samuel Eliyahu who asked him to perform in the Holy Land in modest clothing. In vain,

Instead, he started introducing Kabbalistic visual elements into his video clips.

Synagogue signThe singer visited Safed more than once and, in particular, Ari's grave where she sang a typical Sabbath song, “arrow Dodi”, in the most cabalistic tone possible.

In 2012, he arrived in town with family and some friends. Earlier, in 2009, she was accompanied by Jesus – her model Brazilian boyfriend at the time, not the Jewish Messiah who never convinced Jewish believers – and Rabbi Michael Berg, son of Philip Berg.

Philip Berg was the founder of the Los Angeles International Kabalah Center. From 1965 onwards, this became the main divulging institution of Kabbalah, responsible for the alleged adhesion of other stars of the American showbizz, such as Demi Moore, Britney Spears, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ashton Kutcher, Naomi Campbell and many others.

Several of the new believers stopped attending the center, allegedly because they preferred the previous Christian faith, or no faith at all. Some others - like the ex-wife of Mick Jagger – because you were asked to donate 10% of your income.

From what we understand to the discovery of Safed, the media coverage achieved with the incursions of these stars is handy (and doesn't care much) for those who stuck to Kabbalah for mere commercial purposes.

As for true Kabbalists, the more of these withdrawals, the better.

jewish woman

Jewish woman in one of Safed's many art stores.

Rabbi Gavriel Hubbara of the Yemeni community of Safed did not shy away from declaring about the material girl.

“She only comes here to draw attention to herself…” and, by visiting that rabbi, she is only insulting her own alleged study of the Kabbalah”,

Without a doubt, a reference to the Kabalah Center and the late Philip Berg.

Jerusalem, Israel

Closer to God

Three thousand years of history as mystical as it is troubled come to life in Jerusalem. Worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims, this city radiates controversy but attracts believers from all over the world.
Jerusalem, Israel

Through the Belicious Streets of Via Dolorosa

In Jerusalem, while traveling the Via Dolorosa, the most sensitive believers realize how difficult the peace of the Lord is to achieve in the most disputed streets on the face of the earth.
Holy Sepulcher Basilica, Jerusalem, Israel

The Supreme Temple of the Old Christian Churches

It was built by Emperor Constantine, on the site of Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection and an ancient temple of Venus. In its genesis, a Byzantine work, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher is, today, shared and disputed by various Christian denominations as the great unifying building of Christianity.
Jaffa, Israel

Where Tel Aviv Settles Always in Party

Tel Aviv is famous for the most intense night in the Middle East. But, if its youngsters are having fun until exhaustion in the clubs along the Mediterranean, it is more and more in the nearby Old Jaffa that they tie the knot.
Saint John of Acre, Israel

The Fortress That Withstood Everything

It was a frequent target of the Crusades and taken over and over again. Today, Israeli, Acre is shared by Arabs and Jews. He lives much more peaceful and stable times than the ones he went through.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Dead Sea, Israel

Afloat, in the Depths of the Earth

It is the lowest place on the surface of the planet and the scene of several biblical narratives. But the Dead Sea is also special because of the concentration of salt that makes life unfeasible but sustains those who bathe in it.
Massada, Israel

Massada: The Ultimate Jewish Fortress

In AD 73, after months of siege, a Roman legion found that the resisters at the top of Masada had committed suicide. Once again Jewish, this fortress is now the supreme symbol of Zionist determination
Jerusalem, Israel

A Festive Wailing Wall

The holiest place in Judaism is not only attended by prayers and prayers. Its ancient stones have witnessed the oath of new IDF recruits for decades and echo the euphoric screams that follow.
Jaffa, Israel

Unorthodox protests

A building in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, threatened to desecrate what ultra-Orthodox Jews thought were remnants of their ancestors. And even the revelation that they were pagan tombs did not deter them from the contestation.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Architecture & Design
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Totems, Botko Village, Malekula, Vanuatu
Malekula, Vanuatu

Meat and Bone Cannibalism

Until the early XNUMXth century, man-eaters still feasted on the Vanuatu archipelago. In the village of Botko we find out why European settlers were so afraid of the island of Malekula.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Ceremonies and Festivities
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Kiomizudera, Kyoto, a Millennial Japan almost lost
Kyoto, Japan

An Almost Lost Millennial Japan

Kyoto was on the US atomic bomb target list and it was more than a whim of fate that preserved it. Saved by an American Secretary of War in love with its historical and cultural richness and oriental sumptuousness, the city was replaced at the last minute by Nagasaki in the atrocious sacrifice of the second nuclear cataclysm.
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Newar celebration, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Bhaktapur, Nepal

The Nepalese Masks of Life

The Newar Indigenous People of the Kathmandu Valley attach great importance to the Hindu and Buddhist religiosity that unites them with each other and with the Earth. Accordingly, he blesses their rites of passage with newar dances of men masked as deities. Even if repeated long ago from birth to reincarnation, these ancestral dances do not elude modernity and begin to see an end.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Vanuatu, Cruise in Wala
Wala, Vanuatu

Cruise ship in Sight, the Fair Settles In

In much of Vanuatu, the days of the population's “good savages” are behind us. In times misunderstood and neglected, money gained value. And when the big ships with tourists arrive off Malekuka, the natives focus on Wala and billing.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Selfie, Hida from Ancient and Medieval Japan
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
View of La Graciosa de Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
La Graciosa, Canary Islands

The Most Graceful of the Canary Islands

Until 2018, the smallest of the inhabited Canaries did not count for the archipelago. Arriving in La Graciosa, we discover the insular charm of the now eighth island.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Jok​ülsárlón Lagoon, Iceland

The Chant and the Ice

Created by water from the Arctic Ocean and the melting of Europe's largest glacier, Jokülsárlón forms a frigid and imposing domain. Icelanders revere her and pay her surprising tributes.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Natural Parks
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Mirador de La Peña, El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain
UNESCO World Heritage
El Hierro, Canary Islands

The Volcanic Rim of the Canaries and the Old World

Until Columbus arrived in the Americas, El Hierro was seen as the threshold of the known world and, for a time, the Meridian that delimited it. Half a millennium later, the last western island of the Canaries is teeming with exuberant volcanism.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Balandra Beach, Mexico, Baja California, aerial view
Balandra beach e El Tecolote, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Seaside Treasures of the Sea of ​​Cortés

Often proclaimed the most beautiful beach in Mexico, we find a serious case of landscape exoticism in the jagged cove of Playa Balandra. The duo if forms with the neighbour Playa Tecolote, is one of the truly unmissable beachfronts of the vast Baja California.
Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Tawang, India

The Mystic Valley of Deep Discord

On the northern edge of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is home to dramatic mountain scenery, ethnic Mompa villages and majestic Buddhist monasteries. Even if Chinese rivals have not passed him since 1962, Beijing look at this domain as part of your Tibet. Accordingly, religiosity and spiritualism there have long shared with a strong militarism.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
full cabin
Saariselka, Finland

The Delightful Arctic Heat

It is said that the Finns created SMS so they don't have to talk. The imagination of cold Nordics is lost in the mist of their beloved saunas, real physical and social therapy sessions.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Valdez, Alaska

On the Black Gold Route

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker caused a massive environmental disaster. The vessel stopped plying the seas, but the victim city that gave it its name continues on the path of crude oil from the Arctic Ocean.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.