To steep yourself in the unique spiritual and mystical atmosphere of the Galilee, you should spend time not only in the Kabalah heartland of Safed, but take the beautiful drive to Meron about 15 miles to the northwest.
Here you will find the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Mishnaic-era sage, rebel against Rome and author of the Zohar.
Rabbi Shimon’s tomb is a magnet for Jewish pilgrims, especially on Lag Ba’omer when tens of thousands of people stream to Meron to pray and celebrate, some camping out for days.
Today, Meron is a moshav (cooperative community) named after the Talmudic village that stood here. Adjacent to the Rabbi Shimon’s tomb is the burial cave of Rabbi Hillel the Elder, where miraculously pooling water is a source of blessing. The rock-cut Meron synagogue, with doorways facing Jerusalem, dates from the late third century CE.
To add a taste of the region’s natural beauty to your visit, take the road branching off the main road from Meron northwest, to the summit of 3,000-foot-high, forested Mount Meron, where an hour-long loop trail reveals wonderful vistas.