Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) is the greatest figure of Safed’s golden age of Kabbalah. Although he lived in Safed for only a few years prior to his death, the rabbi, also known as the Ari (an acrostic that also means “lion” in Hebrew), left his mark deeply on the city and on the study of the great mystic work, the Zohar.
The Ari’s Mikveh is built around a small natural spring near the upper entrance to the old cemetery. On his deathbed the Ari instructed that his body be washed here. During these preparations for his burial, tradition says he rose miraculously to immerse himself.
About 100 yards further down the hill is the Ari’s Tomb. Taller than the surrounding grave stones, it is also has a glassed-in portion containing an eternal flame. Near the Ari’s tomb is that of his son, Rabbi Moshe Luria. A tree grows from within this tomb, on which prayer notes are hung in plastic bags. On the Ari’s death date, the fifth of the Hebrew month of Av, a huge commemoration ceremony is held at his tomb.