Yitzchak Kaduri (Hebrew: יצחק כדורי, Arabic: اسحق قدوري), also spelled Kadouri, Kadourie, Kedourie; "Yitzhak" (died January 28, 2006), was a renowned Mizrahi Haredi rabbi and kabbalist who devoted his life to Torah study and prayer on behalf of the Jewish people. He taught and practiced the kavanot of the Rashash. His blessings and amulets were also widely sought to cure people of illnesses and infertility. In his life, he published no religious articles or books. At the time of his death, estimates of his age ranged from 103 to 118, and his birth year is still disputed.
His funeral in Jerusalem drew over half a million followers in what was described as the largest funeral in Israel's history.
He was born in Baghdad, (some say in 1902 - although his true birth year isn't known for sure), then part of the Ottoman Turkish vilayets, to Rabbi Katchouri Diba ben Aziza, a spice trader. This birth year was published in Mishpacha magazine from a live interview with the rabbi in 2005.
As a youngster, Kaduri excelled in his studies and began learning Kabbalah while still in his teens, a study that would last his entire life. He was a student of the Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad) and studied at the Zilka Yeshivah in Baghdad.
Rabbi Kaduri moved to the British Mandate of Palestine (Eretz Israel, the Holy Land) in 1923 upon the advice of the elders of Baghdad, who hoped that his scholarship and piety would stop the incursion of Zionism in the post-World War I state. It was here that he changed his name from Diba to Kaduri.
Student of Kabbalah
He went to study at the Shoshanim LeDavid Yeshiva for kabbalists from Iraq. There he learned from the leading kabbalists of the time, including Rabbi Yehuda Ftaya, author of Beit Lechem Yehudah, and Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Sofer, author of Kaf Hachaim. He later immersed himself in regular Talmudic study and rabbinical law in the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old City, where he also studied Kabbalah with the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Ezra Attiya, Rabbi Saliman Eliyahu (father of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu), and other learned rabbis.
In 1934, Rabbi Kaduri and his family moved to the Old City, where the Porat Yosef Yeshivah gave him an apartment nearby with a job of binding the yeshivah's books and copying over rare manuscripts in the yeshivah's library. The books remained in the yeshivah's library, while the copies of manuscripts were stored in Rabbi Kaduri's personal library. Before binding each book, he would study it intently, committing it to memory. He was reputed to have photographic memory and also mastered the Talmud by heart, including the adjoining Rashi and Tosafot commentaries.
During the period of Arab-Israeli friction that led up to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Porat Yosef Yeshivah was virtually turned into a fortress against frequent flashes of violence. When the Jewish quarter of the Old City fell to the invading Jordanian Army, the Jordanians set fire to the yeshivah and all surrounding houses, destroying all the books and manuscripts that Rabbi Kaduri could not smuggle to Beit El Yeshiva (Yeshivat HaMekubalim) in Jerusalem. He knew all the writings of Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the founder of modern Kabbalah by heart. After the passing of the leading kabbalist, Rabbi Efraim Hakohen, in 1989, the remaining kabbalists appointed Rabbi Kaduri as their head.
Rabbi Kaduri did not publish any of the works that he authored on Kabbalah; he allowed only students of Kabbalah to study them. He did publish some articles criticizing those who engage in "practical Kabbalah", the popular dissemination of advice or amulets, often for a price. He also spoke out against the development of cult organizations frequented by pop celebrities. "Kabbalah should not be taught to non-Jews," he explained.
Blessings, amulets and prophecies
Over the years, thousands of people (mainly but not exclusively Sephardi Jews) would come to seek his advice, blessings and amulets which he would create specifically for the individual in need. He had learned the Kabbalistic secrets of the amulets from his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Fatiyah. Many people directly attributed personal miracles to receiving a blessing from Rabbi Kaduri, such as recovery from severe illnesses and diseases, children born to couples with fertility problems, finding a spouse, and economic blessings.[original research?]
His rise to fame, though, began when his son, Rabbi David Kaduri, who ran a poultry store in the Bukharim Market, decided to found a proper yeshivah organization under his father. Called Nachalat Yitzchak yeshiva, it was located adjacent to the family home in the Bukharim neighbourhood of Jerusalem. His grandson, Yossi Kaduri, took part in this endeavour with him.
Kaduri reportedly received blessings from the Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad) in 1908 and from the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson) in 1990 that he would meet the Messiah. In this context it is worth noting that in Chabad the Rebbe is regarded as messiah, which contextualization certainly may inform the scope of such a blessing. Regardless, other sources say these blessings were for arichat yamim, long life, which was certainly reflected in his advanced age.
Kaduri was seen as a prophesier. In late 2004, Kaduri said "Great tragedies in the world are foreseen" two weeks before the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; reporter Baruch Gordon of Arutz Sheva connected the two by saying Kaduri "predicted" the tragedy.
Involvement in politics
The last two decades of his life were marred by the controversial way that some would use him to promote various political parties. Rabbi Kaduri achieved celebrity status during the 1996 Knesset elections when he was flown by helicopter to multiple political rallies in support of the Shas party, and for amulets that were produced in his name for supporters of that party.
In October 1997, Benjamin Netanyahu, then in his first term as Prime Minister of Israel, came to visit Kaduri at his synagogue and was recorded as whispering in his ear "the left has forgotten what it is to be a Jew". This was considered as a divisive action and resonated in the press.
Kaduri lived a life of poverty and simplicity. He ate little, spoke little, and prayed each month at the gravesites of tzaddikim in Israel. His first wife, Rabbanit Sara, died in 1989. He remarried in 1993 to Rabbanit Dorit, a baalat teshuva just over half his age.
In January 2006, Rabbi Kaduri was hospitalized with pneumonia in the Bikur Holim Hospital in Jerusalem, where there wasn't an automatic artificial respirator, which was donated by a close person. He died at around 10 p.m. January 28, 2006 (29 Tevet 5766). He was alert and lucid until his last day.
An estimated 300,000 people took part in his funeral procession on January 29, which started from the Nachalat Yitzchak Yeshivah and wound its way through the streets of Jerusalem to the Givat Shaul cemetery near the entrance to the city of Jerusalem.
Before his death, Kaduri had said that he expected the Mashiach, the Jewish Messiah, to arrive soon, and that he had met him a year earlier. It has been alleged that he left a hand-written note to his followers and they were reportedly instructed to only open the note after Rabbi Kaduri had been dead for one year. After this time period had passed, the note was opened by these followers and was found to read, "ירים העם ויוכיח שדברו ותורתו עומדים" (translated as "he will raise the people and confirm that his word and law are standing"), which by acronym, suggested the name "Yehoshua" .
- Wagner, Matthew (2006-02-06). "Judaism: The magic of the late Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
- Lawrence Joffe (January 30, 2006). "Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri". The Guardian. Retrieved September 7, 2014. Archived 12 February 2011 at WebCite
- Gordon, Baruch (21 September 2005). "Kabbalist Urges Jews to Israel Ahead of Upcoming Disasters". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- רגעי חסד תקשורתיים: פליטות פה של פוליטיקאים [A Moment of Grace for the Media: Political Slips of the tongue]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). May 15, 2009. Retrieved September 7, 2014. Archived 12 February 2011 at WebCite
- הרב כדורי הלך לעולמו [Rav Kaduri dies] (in Hebrew). nrg Maariv. January 29, 2006. [url=http://www.webcitation.org/69kTr7v00 Archived] from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "Rabbi Kaduri's Most Recent Words". Arutz Sheva. 2006-01-24. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- "A note of Rabbi Kaduri with the name of the messiah". News 1. 2007-01-18. Archived from the original on 2014-08-31. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "The note of Rabbi Kaduri - the messiah: Yehoshua". News First Class. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "Image of the note of Rabbi Kaduri - the messiah: Yehoshua". Rabbi Kaduri's former official website. Retrieved 2013-09-08.