Yitzhak Kaduri
Yitzhak Kaduri
Birth: 7 September 1898?
Bagdad, Iraq
Death: 28 January 2006
Jerusalem, Israel
Age: 107 years, 131 days?
Country: Iraq IRQIsrael ISR
Centenarian

Yitzhak Kaduri (7 September 1898? – 28 January 2006) was an Iraqi-born Israeli centenarian and a renowned Mizrahi Haredi rabbi and kabbalist.

Biography

Yitzhak Kaduri was born in Bagdad, Iraq on 7 September 1898 in what was then part of the Ottoman Turkish vilayets. Some sources claim that he was born in 1902 although his true birth year isn't known for sure. His father, Rabbi Katchouri Diba ben Aziza, was a spice trader. 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 child student of the Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, d. 1909) and studied at the Zilka Yeshivah in Baghdad.

Rabbi Kaduri moved to the British Mandate of Palestine (Eretz Israel, the Holy Land) in 1923. It was here that he changed his name from Diba to Kaduri. 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 Israeli war of Independence, 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.[citation needed] Kadouri said "It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew Kabbalah, not even Talmud, not even simple Torah;" perhaps referring to pop celebrity Madonna's publicised interest in Kabbalah; he also said that women (even Jewish) are not allowed to study Kabbalah.

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.

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 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.

The last two decades of his life were marred by the controversial way that some would use him to promote various political parties during Israeli elections. 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. 28 January 2006 (29 Tevet 5766) at the age of 107 years, 131 days. He was alert and lucid until his last day.

An estimated 300,000 people took part in his funeral procession on 29 January, 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. His funeral, which was held in Jerusalem drew over half a million followers in what was described as the largest funeral in Israel's history.

References

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