History

The Reisheet Hochma and the Kabbalah Movement of Hebron

One of Kabbalah's most well-known works was written in Hebron.

9.5.17, 14:35
(Photo: The grave of Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas in the ancient Jewish cemetery of Hebron. Credit: WikiCommons.)
 
Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas (sometimes spelled DeVidash) was one of a group of prominent kabbalists living in Hebron during the late 16th and early 17th-century, and author of the classic work Reisheet Hochma.
 
He was born in Tzfat to Rabbi Moshe de Vidas, who was a son of a prominent Jewish family from Spain .Becoming an orphan as a young man, he suffered much deprivation.
 
He became a disciple of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (known as the RAMAK) and Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz , who composed the now popular Shabbat song Lecha Dodi. He also studied with a group of well-known Kabbalists from Tzfat including Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Holy ARI), Rabbi Chaim Vital and others.
 
In 1566 he moved to Hebron where he became chief rabbi of the city. Rabbi de Vidas completed his most famous work Reisheet Chochma (The Beginning of Wisdom) in Hebron in 1575. 
 
Reisheet Chochma discusses ethics, meditation and spirituality and has been translated and re-published numerous times.
 
Menachem Mendel of Kamenitz, the first hotelier in the Land of Israel references his visit to the grave of Eliyahu de Vidas in his 1839 book Sefer Korot Ha-Itim. He states, "here I write of the graves of the righteous to which I paid my respects." After describing the Tomb of Machpela and the tombs of such Biblical figures as Ruth and Jesse, Othniel Ben Knaz and Abner Ben Ner, he reports, "I also went to a grave said to be that of the Righteous Rav, author of "Reshit Hokhma."
 
He was buried in the ancient cemetery in Hebron where his grave still exists today and has been visted for centuries. The memorial marker covering Rabbi De Vidas's grave was destroyed along with other famous sages after the Hebron massacre of 1929. It was restored by Prof. Ben Zion Tavger as part of the rehabilitation of the cemetery in the 1970s. Today the refurbished section of the cemetery is still visited by those inspired by Rabbi De Vidas's works of Kabbalistic thought.
 
 
SOURCE NOTES:
 
Eliyahu de Vidas (Wikipedia English)
אליהו די וידאש (Wikipedia Hebrew)

Ancient Jewish Cemetery in Hebron | 28 Images