A Famed Scholar’s House of Study Discovered under a Galilean Luxury Hotel

In modern times, Jews have considered the ancient city of Safed one of the four holy cities in the Land of Israel, primarily because it became a center of mystical scholarship in the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting such figures as Joseph Caro, author of the seminal legal code known as the Shulḥan Arukh. The kabbalist Isaac Luria was another. Recently, the owner of a luxury hotel in Safed came across some features of the building during renovations that led him to call upon the archaeologist Yossi Stefansky to investigate. Yair Kraus writes:

According to tradition, the [hotel] building was part of Rabbi Luria’s living complex 450 ago, within the city’s Jewish community. “This place was likely the Torah study hall of one of the greatest Kabbalah scholars ever, in which several of Rabbi Luria’s top students and their friends studied,” Stefansky said. . . . Another ruin was found next to the ancient building, believed to be the rabbi’s mikveh, which he used daily.

Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, or the Ari, was born in Jerusalem in 1534 to his father Rabbi Solomon Luria, who was of Ashkenazi descent, tracing his lineage to King David, and to his mother, who came from a Sephardi family. . . . After his father’s death, Luria and his family moved to Egypt, where he delved deeply into Kabbalah. In 1570, at the age of thirty-six, Luria, along with his wife, two sons, and daughter, immigrated to Israel and chose to settle in Safed. Two years after settling in the city, Luria died on July 25, 1572, during a plague that struck the entire Galilee region.

“The Jews never abandoned Safed; there was a continuous Jewish presence here that allows us to see how Jewish traditions survived here,” [Stefansky] explained.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Archaeology, Galilee, Isaac Luria, Joseph Caro, Safed

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship