Photo Friday 02.16: Kabbalah aashram

Jewish hermitage

‘Photo Friday’ is a weekly series showcasing pictures from around the world.

You can smell mysticism in the air as you navigate the narrow lanes of Safed, a little town in northern Israel and one of the four holy cities of Judaism. I came here on a day trip from Tiberias, another holy city, looking for architecture that was unique to the various Jewish tribes that made this town their home. I stopped outside a building, what appeared to be an aashram (spiritual hermitage), taking pictures, when a man emerged from the house (it was an information centre), inviting me to have a cup of tea. He talked about Kabbalah, a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious creator and the mortal and finite universe, and explained to me what his life as a Kabbalist was all about.

The interesting part was that this person had spent three years in India, studying Hinduism (perhaps that explained the aashram-like appearance of his house), where while sleeping one night, he heard a divine revelation that ordered him back to Israel… or something of that sort.