Graves of Holy Sages, Tiberias

June 6th 2011

Visiting graves of righteous people is an important element of a successful Israel tour in order to connect with the vast array of courageous souls who undertook the difficult task of uplifting the Jewish people spiritually and physically throughout history.

Up in the spectacular coastal town of Tiberias, lies a number of extremely important Jewish figures, ranging the gamut from the lesser known wives of Jacob to Maimonides.

There are four holy cities of Israel, which are each connected with one of the elements; earth, fire, wind, and water. Tiberias, one of these golden cities, beautifully situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, is equated with ( can you guess?) water!

What is the benefit in visiting a holy sage’s grave? Besides giving you sense of awe and appreciation that these people actually existed and were part of the Holy Land centuries and millennia ago,Jewish thought believes that praying at a righteous person’s grave allows your prayers to ascend with their spiritual assistance and merit, in a sense intervening on your behalf.

To begin with, Tiberias is the final resting place of Maimonides (also known as the Rambam), the greater codifier of Jewish law and philosophy known the world over ( sowell known and integrated is he in his philosophic texts that many people outside of Jewish circles are not even aware that he was a Jew). This grave is perhaps one of the most popular grave sites in all of Israel, so you have hit the spiritual Israel tour jackpot, so to speak. Maimonides, a great doctor as well who lived in the Diaspora, requested his bones be laid to rest in Israel .Legend has it that the way that Maimonides sons knew where to bury him by letting his camels walk, and chose the spot where they simply stopped walking to lay their father to rest.

Rabbi Akiva, the common shepherd turned brilliant scholar who decided at forty years old that he wanted to learn Torah, is buried in Tiberias along with his wife Rachel.  Evidence that if he could do it, you could do it too!

In addition, Tiberias is the resting place of the great sage known as the Miracle Worker, Rabbi Meir, student of Rabbi Akiva and one of the most important rabbis of the 2nd century. His tomb is located below a synagogue, and is a great place to go for blessings.

Sometimes it might feel like you are spending a lot of time paying tribute to just important men in Jewish history, so here inTiberias is the chance to have your prayers be met by the graves of righteous women. Among these women is includedYocheved, the mother of Moses, Tzipporah, the wife of Moses, and Bilhah and Ziilpah, who were the other two wives of the four wives of Jacob. In addition,
Aaron haKohen’s wife, Elisheva.

It is a custom for women to come to pray at these  graves for fertility and Divine assistance in financial concerns. Alas,  some things never change.

The Torah greats are here in Tiberias to add spiritual water to the physical water that surrounds you as your journey along on your glorious Israel tour.