Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Meiron, Passover 1841

"Saphet [Safed] is ranked by the Jews, along with Hebron, Jerusalem, and Tiberias, as one of their holy cities. From every part of the continent of Europe, and from Africa, the Jews resort hither, to die and be buried beside their fathers. Of a population of six thousand, fifteen hundred are Jews. In a valley at a little distance, and visible from the town, are the white sepulchers of Meiron . . . This, too, is the resting-place of countless thousands of Israelites, some of whom lived before the Christian era; but the great majority like the present Jewish occupants of Saphet, have wandered hither from the most distant regions of the earth . . . The Jews from the town often resort to these tombs, passing amongst them; and beside the ashes of his fathers the voice of the living Israelite is often heard ascending in prayer. When Stephens was here, it happened to be the last day of unleavened bread. Towards evening, the whole Jewish population came forth on the roofs of their houses in gay and beautiful costumes, the women with their ornaments of gold and silver on their heads, to enjoy the delicious hour of twilight. When the shades of night gathered round the hill, and the gay spectacle had vanished, the voice of psalms, rising from the Jewish dwellings, fell solemnly on the ear of the traveler." 
(The Modern Judea, Compared with Ancient Prophecy. With Notes Illustrative of Biblical Subjects. By the Rev. James Aitken Wylie . . . New Edition [Glasgow and London: William Collins, 1851], p. 215).

(Related: see here for Prof. Leiman on Lag ba-Omer.)

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