Sunday, September 09, 2012

When the Wall Falls


The ancient synagogue in Meron is located on a hill above the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.   Like other Galilean synagogues from the Byzantine era, its entrance faces south, towards Jerusalem.


But what makes this synagogue special is a story from its later history.  A student of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura wrote in 1495 about the synagogue:
I also saw the synagogue of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and it's also a building made of large stones, but now it's in ruins and there's only one wall remaining.  And the people of Safed say that when the wall falls, our Messiah will come, speedily in our days.  And I was told that in the year of the Spanish Expulsion lightning struck that wall and it started to fall, and the people of Safed made a day of feasting and happiness.
The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, just three years before this story was written down.

The broken lintel stands till today, though the Antiquities Authority has made sure it won't fall on the visiting tourists, by fixing it with cement.



[Thank you to Daniel Ventura and friends who helped with translating the Hebrew-transliterated medieval Italian]

See here for more articles about our history in Israel.

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2 comments:

Avrohom said...

The location of the synagogue and other archaeological remains of ancient Meiron actually raises a question on the authenticity of the grave, being that the Jewish custom was to distance graves from the towns.

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