Safed (other English spellings Zefat, Safad, Tsfat etc.) is a city located in the Upper-Galilee. It is the highest city in Israel (900m) and one of the four holy cities of the Talmud, together with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. The Talmud refers to the city as Tzefiya, and in the Second Temple it was fortified by Josephus Flavius, before he became a turncoat.
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, many prominent rabbis found their way to Safed, which became the key center for Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah. Among the prominent kabbalists who made their home in Safed were Moshe Kordovero, whose “Pardes Rimonim” (The Pomegranate orchard) is a standard work on the Kabbalah, and his Zefat Weaving tallit successor Isaac Luria (Arizal), who started his own school. His teachings were embodied in a book, “Etz Hayim” (Tree of Life).
He died in 1573 and is also known as Ari àÂøÄé and He-Ari (“The Lion”). Joseph Caro’s magnum opus, the “Shulchan Arukh”, was completed in 1536. The influx of Sephardi Jews made Safed a global center for Jewish learning and a regional center for trade throughout 15th and 16th centuries. The Middle East’s first printing press was established in Safed in 1578.