The grave of Rabbi Tarfon is about half way between Tzfat and Meron. To get to the grave, take the main road towards Meron. You will pass the grave of Rabbis Saragossa (charming spot in a vale), Crespida (lovely view after a somewhat difficult climb), and Yehuda Bar Iloi. Continue until you see a large field on your right and turn in there where you will see signs in Hebrew with the name of Rabbi Crespida, Ha Amora. Yosi Ben Yakaav and Tarfon, plus a fourth sign which indicates a memorial to our beloved fallen soldiers, (may their souls be at piece.)
Continue by car or foot on the dirt road that is clearly discernible. To the left is a dirt path, generally closed by a barbed wire fence (which can be opened) that leads to the memorial up the hill.
As you continue on the “Tarfon” road, you will pass an Idra, the stone building where it is said that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai learned the secrets of the Zohar with his students. It is considered an auspicious site for praying.
As you keep walking or driving, up the winding road, you will see a sign that reads “Kadita”, a small community nearby. Soon, you will arrive at a monument on your left that indicates that you have arrived at the bottom of the one hundred steps which lead to Rabbi Tarfon’s grave. You may also continue on the road for a minute until you reach a left turn that leads directly to the grave. There is a clearing there for parking.
Concrete tables and benches are available. There are no water or toilet facilities at the site.
Rabbi Tarfon, a Mishnaic sage (teacher of the Oral Law), was born in Lud and was a descendent of a family of priests. Although a man of wealth, he lived simply and used his money to support the needy. His knowledge and scholarship were so extensive, that he was given the title “the Father of Israel.” Nonetheless, he remained modest and unassuming. He treated his mother, said to have been a rather difficult personality, with the utmost respect and consideration.
Rabbi Tarfon is quoted in “Pirkei Avot”, (Chapter 2, verse 15): “The day is short, the work is much, the workmen are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing.”
Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva were known to have said: “Had we been members of the Sanhedrin, we would never have put anyone to death.”
The time before dusk, when shadows begin to fall on the vale below, enhances the quietude and serenity of this Holy place.
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.