Israel Forever

For the week ending 9 February 2013 / 28 Shevat 5773

Fireflies of Tsefat

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Fireflies abound in the beautiful city of Tsefat during the summer. Veteran Jews warn the younger generation to refrain from doing them any harm. What is the reason for this attitude towards fireflies?

Legend has it that in ancient times the city was ruled by a cruel despot who persecuted its Jewish inhabitants. One of his wicked decrees was to ban Jews from having any light in their homes and synagogues at night, and he even ordered them to bring him all their lamps.

This meant that Jews would not be able to study Torah at night. They came in desperation to their rabbi and complained that there was no value in a life without an opportunity for Torah study at night. "Go out en masse to the fields," he advised them, "and gather the fireflies. Bring them to the Beit Midrash and study Torah by their light."

The suggestion was followed and ever since then the Jews of Tsefat have a special appreciation of the fireflies in their midst.

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