The Song I Sang in Tsfat

The Song I Sang in Tsfat

We spent this past Shabbat in a suburb of Heaven. Or at least that’s how Tsfat feels to me.

On our past annual visits to Tsfat with my husband’s students, being in such an intensely spiritual place—the birds circling overhead like angels, the ancient Kabbalistic whispers, the otherworldly inhabitants – has consistently made me feel ill. My head spins around and I feel nauseous and disoriented until that moment when we head back down the mountain to Olam Hazeh on Saturday night.

My mysterious Tsfat illness feels like a combination of Climbing-Everest-without-Oxygen and garden-variety food poisoning.

So this past Shabbat, it was a relief that my Tsfat allergy simply forgot to show up.* So I was able to fully enjoy the unique spirituality of Heaven’s suburb without feeling light-headed and queasy.

On Friday at sunset, I went on a stroll with my sleeping baby. And I walked down some stairs and saw half of the Kinneret Sea sitting right there in front of me. I didn’t even know that you could see the Kinneret from Tsfat!

So I sat down on those broken steps, watching the Kinneret, and the twinkling Tiberias lights, and the rolling glowing Galillee, and I started singing to G-d. I sang Yedid Nefesh, and I sang the four or five lines I could remember from Lecha Dodi.

And then, from out of nowhere, I started singing a song I haven’t sung in years. But I didn’t feel like I was singing that song to G-d; I felt like that song was one that G-d was singing to ME.

And I covered my face and I cried and I cried and I cried.

Because that song reminded me how often I focus on my shortcomings. How often I zoom in on all the things I do wrong.

But G-d doesn’t zoom in on my JewishMOM pimples and flops. G-d sees all of me. He sees my true colors. And that, I remembered, is why He loves me even at those times when I have a hard time remembering why He should.

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*This year we stayed at a hostel a half an hour outside of Tsfat’s spiritual center, the Old City. And I think the more down-to-earth surroundings, diverse in a sort of Nachlaot way, was the reason my Tsfat allergy didn’t show up this time.

Photo courtesy of user Alicia Bramlett


  1. “We spent this past Shabbat in a suburb of Heaven. Or at least that’s how Tsfat feels to me”
    What a great line:)!!

  2. hey, wish you could have stopped by the gallery!
    glad you enjoyed….
    all the best,
    sheva chaya

  3. oh, wow, talk about living deja vu!! i am hoping to make aliyah to tzfat and your essay just sums it all up so nicely.
    and i have to admit, that song really pulls all parts of my diverse life together.
    yasher koach for giving me a spiritual lift today!

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