R' Meir Ba'al HaNess - On the way into Tiberias coming from the north, one passes by the tomb of Rebbe Meir Ba'al Haness (Rabbi Meir, master of miracles). The name is fitting for this great sage of the Talmud, about whom his colleagues said that they could not fathom the depths of his knowledge. To this day, this tzadik continues to work miracles for the people who come to visit his tomb and make requests. It's not always good to request something miraculous; the Talmud records that G-d doesn't like to "rock the boat" by shaking up the laws of nature and making something supernatural happen. Nevertheless, the Talmud also states that "The tzadik decrees, and G-d fulfills." Because of the very high spiritual accomplishments of the soul of the tzadik, G-d responds in a special way to the intercession of the tzadik, which after all is a selfless request (the tzadik isn't asking for anything for himself). The Talmud also states about Rebbe Meir that he was capable of making three hundred parables, or examples, in order to teach someone on a lower level than himself. In Chabad chassidut, it is explained that that means he was capable of bringing spirtual teaching down three hundered levels in order to get the point across. So when you enter the tomb of Rebbe Meir, give tzedako ("charity"), and recite the phrase Eloka d'Rebbe Meir aneini, Eloka d'Rebbe Meir aneini ("G-d of Rebbe Meir answer me, G-d of Rebbe Meir answer me"), don't be surprised if your request comes true.

Rambam (R'Moses ben Maiman) - On the way into Tiberias, as one is approaching the bus station, there is a right turn which brings one shortly to the tomb of the Rambam, Rebbe Moses ben Maiman, also known as Maimonides. Rambam was born in Spain, but exiled to Egypt with his family when the Christians conquered Spain from the Moslems. In Egypt, he became the court physician, tending to the caliph of Egypt and his court. He also managed to compose one of the earliest authoritative codifications of Jewish law, known as the Mishneh Torah, which became the basis of Rav Yoseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch, mentioned above. The Mishneh Torah is quoted by all subsequent Jewish sages, among the last of them being R' Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe. Because the Mishneh Torah encompasses the entire body of the oral Torah, something which no other work does, the Rambam also merited to be nicknamed the nesher hagadol - the "great eagle." But it doesn't stop there. He also wrote a book called the "Guide to the Preplexed," meant to help the Jews of his day cope with the intellectual challenges posed by Islam to Judaism. The "Guide" merited to great circulation not only among Jews, but also established the Rambam as a world-class philosopher whose works are studied and quoted in academic circles today. He also wrote an explanation of the Mishnah (the body of oral Torah given to Moses on Sinai), and medical treatises and letters to Jewish communities all over the world. So, it's definitely worthwhile to pay a visit to his grave and petition G-d through his good services. Nearby him are also buried several sages of the Mishnah and Talmud.

Rebbe Akiva - leaving downtown Tiberias and creeping up the mountain overlooking the sea of Galilee, one comes to the tomb of Rebbe Akiva, the sage upon whom the entire Talmud is based. Rebbe Akiva started learning Torah late in his life: he was forty years old, a shepherd, in whom the daughter of one of the wealthy Jews of Jerusalem saw great potential and decided to marry him. In her merit, the Talmud says, Rebbe Akiva studied, reached great depths of knowledge in both the revealed side of Torah (Jewish law) and the hidden side (Kabbalah), and gained twenty-four thousand students. Among his students in kabbalah was Rebbe Shimon bar Yohai, redactor of the Zohar. Although most of his students passed away tragically in a virulent plague (attributed to their inability to respect one another's spiritual paths), five of them survived. They were responsible for carrying on the oral tradition after Rebbe Akiva, together with nine of his saintly colleagues, was martyred by the Romans for studying and teaching Torah. It is difficult to imagine that one man alone, using his own intellectual powers, could reach the heights which Rebbe Akiva attained. He must have tremendous siyata de'shmaya, "help from Above," and therefore it behooves us once more to pay him a visit and ask for his intercession on our behalf. Besides, it's an amazing view looking down from his tomb onto the sea of Galilee.

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