Near Bar Yochai's tomb
Photo: Effie Sharir

Who's really buried at Bar Yochai tomb?

Historian says sacred sites shared by Jews and Muslims alike until declared Jewish by newly founded State of Israel

Every year tens of thousands of Jews make their way to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. Yet according to an historian from the Haifa University, the area was once sacred to the Muslims as well.


The legendary Rabbi is the author and protagonist of the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah. His tomb, in the small Galilean town of Meron, is a holy site for pilgrimage, especially on the holiday of Lag B’Omer, the anniversary of his death.


Dr. Mahmoud Yazbek from the History Department for Middle Eastern Studies says he discovered that the location was mentioned as early as the 14th century in the scriptures of two Muslim intellectuals. In his recently published research he wrote that during that same period the area was used as a site for Muslim and Jewish rituals, and each side believed that their spiritual leaders were buried there.


According to him, this is just an isolated example of how early settlers in the Land of Israel, Jews Muslims and Christians would pray together around the tombs, while each was convinced that their own spiritual leaders were buried there. Yet despite this the worshippers cooperated with each other, prayed alongside each other and lived in harmony.


Dr Yazbek says that with the founding of the State, many of these sites were Judaized by the State "and all the characteristics of the other religions disappeared."


פרסום ראשון: 02.13.07, 23:55
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