“Gate of Reincarnations” chapter 37
translated by Rabbi Yitzchak Bar-Chaim
Shmuel said: I agreed to write a section [from what my father wrote that he heard from the Holy Arizal] that indicates the burial places of the righteous, at least those that are known, some of which are not easily recognizable and some of which are well known.
I will write about the burial places of the righteous as my master told them to me. As we have said before, he was able to see the souls of righteous people at any time and in any place, and even more so at their burial site, for that is where their Nefesh stands. Even from a distance, he could see the Nefesh of a righteous person standing on his burial place.
This is how he came to know the burial place of each righteous person. He spoke with them and from them learned many secrets of Torah. On many occasions, I tested the information and did investigations. I found that everything was accurate and I have many amazing stories to tell, but the book would never be completed.
In the area of Tzfas, in the west, there is a Jewish cemetery with one house inside it. In the middle of the roof there is a round-domed section. On the north side of the house there is a small hole that opens to a cave. People say that Hoshea ben B’eri is buried there, but they are mistaken. It is Rebi Yehoshua the Tanna, not Hoshea, who is buried there.
If you walk from Tzfas to the west side of the cemetery there is a well called the “Pit of Gevizo”; a little further from the west side is buried Rebi Shimon ben Chalafta, but there is no marker.
If you leave the village that is called the Deharia to the lower west side of Tzfas and descend to the river where they grind flour, continue on that way until you reach the place from which you can see the river a little. To the left of the path is a small road between the rocks, and to the south of the road there is a high rock that looks like a single wall. That is where Rebi Chiya, mentioned in Idra Rabba (Naso) in buried.
Once you arrive below and continue to descend in the same direction a little farther, on the east side you will find a single rock that stands straight up. Below the rock itself is buried Rebi Nechunia ben HaKanna.
From this rock head north, and in the middle of the mountain there is a large rock which is split into two. That is where Rav Yitzchak Napcha, mentioned in Idra Rabba in Parashas Naso, is buried.
(Shmuel said: This clearly indicates that he was not buried with the Rashb”i and his son Rebi Eliezer in Meron. People seem to say that the third plot is that of Rav Yitzchak.)
When you continue down the mountain, there is a “batan” where people fix clothing; it is the largest batan on this river. On the mountain to the east of the batan, at the top of the mountain in line with it, there is a big hole that goes into the mountain. That is where Rebi Avva, mentioned in Idra Rabba (Naso), is buried.
As you go from Dehariah, which is in the west of Tzfas, along the way that is below the cemetery and head north, continue until a brook called “Car’el”. Along this way are many olive trees and once you reach them, descend the mountain to the head of the river where they grind wheat. There is a ditch there, being a place where stones are quarried. There is buried Adinu HaAtzani.
A little further is another quarry, and that is where Rebi Chutzpis the Translator is buried.
From there, you can descend even further, and in the middle of the descent there is a large rock; both its length and width are close to ten amos. It is a unique rock that lies on the ground, and below it a space opens up opposite the ground. Below is buried Yehoida HaKohen.
From this way, one can continue from Deharia to the Car’el. There is a path that descends from Tzfas to the head of the river where wheat is ground. If you descend a little further, about a third of the incline of the mountain path, there is a carob tree. That is where the son of Rav Safra, mentioned in the Zohar in Parashas Terumah, is buried.
Further down to the east there is an opening to a cave with a garden above it, and to the west side of the cave below there are three cracks. That is where Yosi ben Yoezer, Yosi ben Meshulam, and Yosi ben Yochanan are buried-opposite the three cracks.
To the east of Tzfas, as you go from Tzfas to the village of Avnis, there are two very big mountains. The path between them is called “Bein Givlayin” and in the middle to the south side at the top of this mountain is where Rebi Kruspedai is buried, mentioned at the end of Sefer Tikunim, Tikun 70, and in the Zohar in Parashas Shlach-Lecha.
Also, when you walk out of Tzfas on the path known as “Bein Givlayin,” mentioned above, on the very mountain on your right side, the one the extends above “He’arat El Ka’rat” of the people of Yishmael, ascend there and walk the entire length of its summit from North to the South. Along that way you will find a large boulder on the right side with an apparent digging at its base; there is the burial site of Antigonus Ish Socho. If you continue a little more due south, you will find another boulder with an apparent digging at its base on the right side. There is buried Nasan of Tzutzita.
South of Tzfas (may it be speedily rebuilt), to the south of the tower there is a spring called the “New Spring.” Quite close is a cave called “Oled Yaakov,” and opposite the spring to the north is a nice building with a few nice houses nearby. Rumor has it that in that area is buried Rebi Dosa ben Hurkinos. The rumor is true and there is no other Tzaddik buried there.
From there, walk along the path that leads South onto the street called “El Meedan,” where there is a saloon of Arabs. Below that saloon, there is a valley to the left of the gorge-this street itself is a large cleft hewn between the stones of the rocks of the mountain. There is buried Rebi Binyamin Bar Yefes.
From there, you should continue further to the south. After passing through the entire neighborhood of the homes of the Arabs there is a large place entirely filled with tiny tall stones. There is one mound taller than the rest. At that place there used to be a very ancient house of worship. At the spot of the sanctuary is buried the Tanna Binyamin HaTzaddik.
There, nearby, is a small valley. That is where Nachum Ish Gamzu is buried. The entire place of those mounds was once a very large and holy city.
To the North of Tzfas (may it be speedily rebuilt), when walking northbound from Tzfas to the town of “Ein Zeitun,” down the path of the one carob tree is the grave of Yeshu the Christian. At that place, there are two paths; the one towards the right goes to “Ein Zeitun,” and the second to the left goes towards HaCar’el (which was mentioned above).
There, in between the two paths is a large valley of olive trees. At the northern extreme of that valley there is a running stream that flows from one pit that is called Gaffar; it is between Tzfas and Ein Zeitun. There is a bridge that is used to cross over that stream. That stream flows down to the north of that aforementioned valley. At the very last of all the olive trees is buried the mother of Rav Kruspedai the kind-hearted, mentioned in the Zohar in Parashas Shlach-Lecha.
When walking north from Tzfas to the “Milk Region” (Gush Chalav), there is a stream called Car’el. It appears to me that the waters from Biriyah and the spring of Zeitun flow into that stream. On that very path leading towards the Milk Region, once you have traversed the path north four hundred cubits from the stream of Car’el, there is a large and long stone leaning towards the path on the left side. Underneath it is buried Rebi Noson HaBavli.
If you go from there directly west, you will find at the mountain a large place filled with diggings. There you will see a spot between the boulders that looks like a place from which they would quarry stones. That is the burial site of Rav Shimon Ben Menasyah.
From there walk north, veering slightly to the west until you reach a very deep stream flowing between two quite tall mountains. The source of this stream is a deep ravine between the two mountains near the town of Kizmiya. In that ravine, there is a pit that is called “Bir Al’Sheikh.” Also in that ravine, is a fork in the path, one part leading to Meiron, one to “Gush Chalav,” and the last to “Beirisah.”
Due south of that pit is a dried up stream bed of an old stream that used to flow between another two tall and long mountains. The end of that dried up stream is at the Tzfas stream, where they grind flour (as mentioned earlier).
When heading north from the grave of Rav Shimon Ben Menasyah veer to the west, following the deep stream until you reach the end of the mountain that is above this stream. There, perched atop is a boulder with a bit of a plateau. Right next to that is buried Rav Yayvo Sabba, mentioned in the Zohar, Parashas Mishpatim.
At two hundred cubits distance from there to the east is the burial sight of Uriah Hakohen. At that mountain there is a gathering of large stones in the shape of a circle, the middle of which being the place where Rav Shimon Bar Yochai z”l, and his students gathered to learn the holy book “Safra D”Tzniusa” of Parashas Terumah. At that very place is buried Rav Yossi of Peki’en, who is mentioned in the Zohar, in Parashas Balak.
On the path from Tzfas to Gush Chalav, midway between Car’el and Bir Al’Sheikh, along the path on the east side nearly ten cubits or slightly less, is a rather short and small boulder. That is the burial site of Ben Hei Hei.
On that path after passing Car’el there is a tall mountain on the east side towards your right. That is the mountain one needs to traverse to get to Ein Zeitun. Ascend that mountain and at the summit is buried Rav Yochanan Ben Brokah.
Following that same path, upon reaching Bir Al’Sheikh stand due north. From that position on your left side you will see a monument which is the burial site of Rav Yosi from Yukras.
On the path you take to reach Kfar Kiyumia, which is what people call it, on the right side there is a tall mountain. Ascend the mountain roughly fifty cubits and you will find a cave situated opposite the monument of Rav Yossi of Yukras. That cave has two openings, a small one to the left of the entrance and one on top of the cave. Enter the one on the top; there is buried Rav Kruspedai the Amora. My master had told me that Rav Kruspedai was on the level of a Tanna. Together with him are buried two other righteous people whose names I don’t remember.
On that same path, near the ravine where Bir Al’Shiekh is located, there is a split in the road in the northward side. The right path stands at the east side of that mountain, where K’far Birisa is situated. The left path leads to Gush Chalav. When taking the right path, upon reaching the place in-between the two mountains, the mountain on the left is of Kfar Birisa.
At roughly one hundred cubits distance from there you will find a small plateau that has roughly twenty olive trees. There you will see a deep ditch along the path from the rains that flow from the mountain in the winter. The beginning of the path is on the right side of the ditch, but further down the ditch passes through the path leaving the path on the left side of the ditch.
At the very place where the path crosses over the ditch, there is one olive tree and at its roots there is a ledge of stones. Opposite that tree, to the east is a boulder that has some diggings in it, as well as some crevices. In one of the crevices on the north of the boulder is the burial site of Rav Yosi Bar Ya’akov who died at the time of the Idra Rabba, as mentioned there.
In the same field is the very place that they gathered together to compose the Idra. Rebi Shimon Bar Yochai, of blessed memory, sat in the crevice where Rav Yosi is buried. The digging on the south side is where Rebi Abba used to sit. At the tree mentioned earlier is where Rebi Elazar sat.
On that path near Bir Al’Sheikh to the north there is a very large mountain that divides the two previously mentioned paths. When you go up from the path through the middle of the mountain, prior to reaching the area of the summit you will find many boulders. There, amongst the boulders is a depression appearing as an entrance to a cave. Descend there and you will find a widening inside, just like a cave. There are buried Elkanah the father of the prophet Shmuel, as well as Rav Bana’a the Amora.
(Says Shmuel: This is not as people say, that Elkanah is buried with his son Shmuel in his town of Ramsa.)
In Kfar Biriyah there is a cave in which people think Abba Shaul is buried. However, my master disagrees and says that a different righteous person was buried there, though he did not tell me his name.
When leaving Kfar Biriyah, heading north towards Kfar Avnit, follow the path upon which are planted many trees of roses called “Al Rayash.” At the beginning of that path, after leaving the spring of Biriyah and roughly four hundred cubits on the left side of the road, you will find a deep narrow and slanting declivity between the two mountains. That is the burial site of Binayahu Ben Yehoiada.
In Kfar Avnit there is a cave in which are buried Abaye and Rava. The opening of the cave is on the west and inside the cave are many alcoves. In the alcove of the southeast corner is Abaye’s grave. In the alcove right next to it, on the south wall Rav Dimi from Neharda’a is buried. The next alcove over on the south is a bit wider than Rav Dimi’s, and that is where Rava is buried, in the middle alcove of the southern wall. The rest of the alcoves he (the Arizal) didn’t identify for me.
To the west of Tzfas (may it be rebuilt), in the town of Cansfardy there is a cave. People say that it is the burial place of Nachum Ish Gamzu. However, that is not so, but rather, Nechemiah Ha’Amsuny is buried there. It would seem that people confused the two because they had similar names.
(Says Shmuel: We have previously mentioned that Nachum Ish Gamzu is buried near Binyamin HaTzaddik.)
Rebi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son Rebi Elazar are buried in Meiron, just as people say.
North of Tzfas, in the town of Ein Zeitun there is a monument marking the grave of Rebi Yehudah Bar Iloy, just as people say. The exact spot of his grave is in the northwest corner of the monument. Below in the cave, underneath the monument on the north side, at the head of the cave, people say that Rebi Iloy, the father of Rebi Yehudah is buried. This is correct, and his grave is in the second alcove on the east near the southeast corner.
When leaving Ein Zeitun towards Kfar Almah, near the cave of Rebi Iloy before reaching a spring called “Ein Al Tinni,” on the right side of the path is a large mountain. Midway up the ascending slope there is a boulder and Rebi Nehorai Sabba is buried there, mentioned in the Zohar in Parashas Tetzaveh..
After leaving Ein Zeitun for Kfar Gavraiyitin, there is a large mountain one descends to the town itself. Midway down the path Yonasan Ben Hurkanos and Rebi Yitzchak Ben Elyashiv are buried together in one tomb.
When leaving the Town of Gush Chalav, to the north in a valley there, walk five hundred cubits. There, in the middle of the valley Yoel Ben Pesuel is buried.
South of Tzfas (may it be rebuilt), in the town Kfar Achbara, there is a cave amongst the orchards. Flowing from the opening is a spring that waters the orchards and whose opening is very narrow. Enter the cave and on the east side is the grave of Rav Yannai. However, Rav Dostai and Rav Nehorai are not buried there as well, as it says in the “Book of Lineage.”
In Kfar Hukav to its south side, there is a large mountain that has been hewn straight like a wall. In the wall is a hewn cave facing the town. From there you can ascend to other diggings in the wall, which are very close to the cave. In those places are buried together: Rav Zerika, Rav Sama, Oshiya, and Zeira. In one spot is buried Mar Ukva alone, and in another spot Rav Livitas Ish Yavneh is buried, also alone.
In the area of the summit of that mountain, there is a path that comes from Kfar Ukvi. There, at the end of the summit, upwards on the west side there seems to be a ditch and a dug out area between the boulders that looks like a gorge. Inside is the grave of Admon who is mentioned extensively in the last chapter of Kesuvos, “Shnei Diyanai Gezeiros.” Very close by is another crevice where Akavya Ben Mehallalel is buried.
In middle of the city Teveriyah (Tiberias) on the far south side near the sea is a large synagogue. Inside is a tremendous holiness from olden days, yet the sanctity is not from the Holy Ark on the southern wall, but rather it emanates from the middle of the length of the second arc. In that corner on the west side is where my master established his place of prayer when staying in Teveriyah, since there is tremendous holiness in that place.
Outside of Teveriyah, opposite the northern wall of the city nearby you will see two or three alcoves. Inside is said to be buried a few righteous people, though their identity isn’t clear. I seem to recall that one of them is Rav Yitzchak Nafcha. My master agreed that they are the graves of righteous people, and I think he told me the identity is as people say.
Continue in that field to the west, in a slightly south direction. There you will find a courtyard surrounded by walls, and inside you will see monuments and tombs. In the alcove next to the entrance is buried Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai.
Continue further west of the courtyard and you will find a monument which is the obelisk of the grave of the Rambam (Maimonides), and his father, of blessed memory, as is commonly said. From there, a short distance to the west, there is a very small enclosure, wherein people say is buried the holy Tanna Rav Yochanan and someone else, whom my teacher said Rav Chananel the student of Rav. I seem to recall that there is yet another righteous people buried there, of which I think I heard from my master is Rav Kahana.
Afterwards, head north angling slightly west, and you will see the mountain upon which the inhabitants of Teveriyah bury their deceased. There a ledge is built into the three walls; according to the popular belief it is the burial plot of Rav Chiyah and his sons. In the cubicles of the northern wall are the graves of Rav Chiyah and his sons Yehudah and Chizkiah. Also buried in those cubicles are Rav Hamnuna Sabba (who is frequently mentioned in the Zohar), Rav Huna, and the Raish Galusa who lived in the times of Rabbeinu HaKadosh. The Talmud mentions the bringing of his coffin to the cave of Rav Chiyah.
From there, ascend the slope of the mountain to the west, angling to the south and you will find the cave of Rebi Akiva. Chazal have told us of how Eliyahu HaNavi and Rebi Yehoshua HaGarsi entered the cave, and how the inner cave opened up for them and they were able to bury Rebi Akiva inside. Yet when they left, the entrance sealed itself and only the exterior cave remained accessible. That is as close as we can get to the actual grave.
The place that is closest in line with his grave is the inner cave whose mouth was sealed. The mouth of this cave is in the east, and thus the southwest corner is exactly opposite his grave that is in the inner chamber that was sealed off.
To the south of Teveriyah, walking through the hot baths, there are some graves of some righteous people a little ways away. They are indentified in the Sefer HaYichus (The Book of Lineage), and are Rebi Meir and Rebi Yirmiyah who was expelled from the Beis Medrash for asking that very strange question, as mentioned earlier. He is the one meant by the Talmud wherever the phrase “Rebi Yirmiyah asked” appears.
There are another three righteous people buried in that general area, yet their names escape me. Refer to “Sefer HaYichus” and to what is commonly said regarding them for the true identification. In my humble opinion, my teacher agreed with me that Rebi Meir was buried in a standing position, as people say.
Walking by the sea of Teveriyah to the hot springs, midway at the place where there are many palm trees by the sea, directly opposite the tower on the top of the adjacent mountain, is the “Well of Miriam.” East of the sea of Teveriyah, there is a town by the name of Kfar Tanchum. It is said that Nachum Ha’Alkushi is buried there, in my humble opinion I think my teacher agreed.
This is the end of this discussion of the burial places of the righteous, may their merit protect us. Amen, let it be the Divine will.
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Yitzchak Bar-Chaim is the pseudonym of an American-born Jerusalem scholar who has studied and taught Kabbala for many years. He may be contacted through: kabbala@KabbalaOnline.com.