The Holy City of Tsfat is located in the Upper Galilee of Northern Israel. Over five hundred years ago, the area was home to some of the greatest scholars, mystics and spiritual leaders in Jewish history. They strove to fuse heaven and earth together by merging the hidden and revealed aspects of the Torah. Among them were the Arizal, Rabbi Isaac Luria, who formulated the entire system now used to understand the Kabbalah, and the Beit Yosef, Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, the definitive Code of Jewish Law. They established a spiritual foundation, transforming what it meant to be a Jew forever. The city awaited imminent world-wide redemption, as the Arizal and his student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, sought to catalyze the events that would bring the Messiah.
In a tradition from the Arizal, when the first Jewish Temple was destroyed, the Shechina retreated slowly in stages until... the Holy City of Tsfat. And there She remains until the final redemption. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev tells a story about a lost princess on a Golden Mountain. According to Reb Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, the Golden Mountain is Tsfat.
WHY IS BRESLEV IN TSFAT?
To strengthen Torah and divine service by revealing the path of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in the world, so that God's name will be loved by all.
The driving force behind Breslev in Tsfat today is the vision of Reb Gedaliah Aharon Kenig. He took upon himself the mission to rebuild the Old City of Tsfat after receiving an oral tradition from his teacher and mentor, Reb Avraham Sternhartz, great-grandson of Reb Noson and the key Breslev leader in the last generation. Reb Avraham told him that it would greatly benefit the world if a community based upon Rebbe Nachman's spiritual pathway could be established in Tsfat. As they stood on the western slope of Tsfat over 60 years ago, Reb Avraham outlined the exact vicinity to Reb Gedaliah that should be rebuilt. It was the same neightborhood where the Arizal and his community had lived almost 500 years earlier and ironically, was the spot most severely devastated by two earthquakes. Unable to recover from the tremendous destruction, the area remained desolate and abandoned. Reb Avraham was passing on a directive based on Rebbe Nachman's own trip to Tsfat in 1798-1799, when Rebbe Nachman indicated the exact area that should be rebuilt.
It was an unfathomable mission. Reb Gedaliah himself had no idea of the effort it would require, but he threw himself into the task. Against all odds, he managed to piece together the area by legally purchasing 80 separate parcels of land from a myriad of sources, at times paying double and triple the price. He passed away unexpectedly in 1980 at the age of 59, shortly before construction began. Just before his passing, he was overheard to say that he was leaving the world for the sake of Tsfat.
Reb Gedaliah's sons continued the physical and spiritual development of the community. Today, the community is under the spiritual leadership of HaRav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlita, who together with his brothers, Rav Ephraim and Rav Yitzchak, are continuing to draw down the spirit of Rebbe Nachman into the world.