The easily accessible gravesite of the great Davidian-era sage and warrior, Benayahu ben Yehoyada in the Tsfat (a.k.a. Safed) suburb of Biriya wasn't always so simple to find. In fact, it took no less of a luminary that the holy Ari to "sense" that a certain spot where he was hiking with his disciples nearly 500 years ago on the outskirts of Safed was indeed the resting place of Ben Yehoyada.

Benayahu was considered the most brilliant warrior of his day. Even more, he was someone whose extraordinary Torah knowledge and virtues destined him to become the leader of the highest Torah law body, the Sanhedrin. He also became David's chief counsel.

We are introduced to the heroic greatness and righteousness of Benayahu in the Second Book of Samuel, especially chapter 23, verses 20-23. They begin: "Benayahu the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man ("ben ish chayil") great in deeds, of Kabzeel, he smote the two mighty men of Moab…."

Our sages explain:

"Son of a valiant man" — Benayahu's courage and strength were inherited from his father. However, the written form of the three words is actually:

"Ben ish chai" - "the son of a man yet alive." This indicates that Yehoyada, other than having been a valiant warrior, was also a very righteous man, for the deeds of the truly righteous outlive their physical existence, in this manner keeping their memories alive.

"Great in deeds" - Great in military accomplishments, great in his deeds of righteousness

"The two mighty men of Moab" - Our rabbis stated that he left no one like him, neither in the period of the First Temple nor the period of the Second Temple. Further, in the Zohar (1:7a) it is stated, "Benayahu never departed from the walls of David's heart. There will never be a separation between them."

"Of Moab" - The Temple is here referred to as "of Moab" because Solomon built it who was a descendant of Ruth the Moabitess.

Nowadays, many visitors to Safed as well as locals often take time to visit Ben Yehoyada's gravesite to connect on a spiritual level with the soul of the man in whose merit, it is said, both the first and second Holy Temples stood — one of the 36 righteous men found in every generation in whose merit the very world exists.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim, the famous sage and kabbalist who was chief rabbi of Bagdad for 50 years (1859-1909), titled four of his books after words in the above quoted verse books — "Ben Ish Chai," "Benayahu", "Ben Yehoyada," and "Rav Pe'alim"- because he understood himself to be an incarnation of Benayahu.

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