Zefat (Hebrew:צפת) is a small town located in Northern Israel, 900 meters above sea level in the mountains of the Upper Galilee. It is the highest city in Israel.
Safed is one of the four Holy cities in Israel. The other 3 cities are Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias.
According to Jewish mystics, Zefat has an important role in the final redemption. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says that the Messiah will come from Zefat on his way to Jerusalem. The Ari HaKadosh said that until the Third Temple is built, the Shechinah rests above Zafet.
Zefat has also a rich past. According to Jewish belief, Zefat is where Shem and Ever (son and grandson of Noah) established their yeshiva where Jacob studied for many years. Zefat was founded in 70AD. The city flourished in the 16th century when many famous Jewish religious scholars and mystics moved to Zefat following the Spanish Expulsion. Zefat then became the spiritual center of the Jewish world, where Kabbalah reached the peak of its influence.
Many Kabbalists, such as Ha-Ari HaKadosh, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, and Rabbi Yosef Karo made the city famous.
However, Zefat suffered terribly during the ensuing years due to earthquakes, plagues, and Arab attacks. The liberation of Zefat was one of the most dramatic episodes in the 1948 War of Independence.
Today, Zefat is the center of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism and offers visitors a spiritual experience.