Amuka (Grave of Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel)


Yonatan ben Uziel lived 2000 years ago. He was the greatest of all the students of Rabbi Hillel. The Talmud reports that birds passing above his head would burn from the light of his Torah study! Known for his famous Targum ([“Translation”] an ancient Aramaic paraphrase or interpretation of the Hebrew Bible) of The Prophets, it is said that he also planned to author a translation-commentary on The Writings, but was prevented by Heaven so that he would not reveal the secrets of the final redemption. His burial place in Amuka, near Safed, is one of the main Jewish pilgrimage sites in Israel.

Tradition has it that Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel gave a blessing to all those who are unmarried that if they visited his resting place they would merit to meet their soul mates and marry within the period of one year. This blessing has worked for all these centuries and countless numbers of people have married.

Many of the graves of Jewish tzaddikim (tzaddik = Hasidic spiritual leader or guide), sages from the period of the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE), are in the Galilee. There is a historic reason for this - the Galilee has always been a sparsely populated region with lax government and many opportunities for solitude. Those who fled the persecutions of the Romans and sought a place where they could follow their spiritual inclinations undisturbed naturally reached this area.

You get to the grave of Yonatan ben Uziel via a road that was built by the Jewish National Fund and which begins opposite the entrance to Safed. The winding road twists and turns through the beautiful pine forest where there is also a lovely grove of Lebanese cedars. The grave is marked by a simple white structure.

Very close to the grave is a tree adorned with dozens of scarves, head-kerchiefs and strips of cloth. Women leave something there of themselves, as a talisman to maintain a continuous connection with the place.

Beside the grave is a creek that flows northward. In the distance you can see Mt. Hermon and directly above, the homes of Amuka, quite a northern settlement.
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