a Beloved Rabbi
1, 2006 The Jewish Voice
Shabbat Tevet 28 5766, January 28, 2006, the well-known
rabbi, Hakham Yishak Kaduri of Jerusalem passed away.
Hakham Yishak Kaduri was the most revered mekubal (kabbalist)
in Israel, considered the most respected in our generation.
The elderly rabbi was said to be about 106 years old.
Kaduri was born in Ottoman Turkish Iraq between 1897 and
1900. In the true Sephardic tradition, the young Yishak
Kaduri was a man of the world and a man of the Torá
(Jewish law). He started out working with his hands in
the trade of binding books. His education took him to
Hakham Yosef Haim (known as the Ben Ish Hai), sometime
before he was 13. Hakham Yishak Kaduri would go on to
become one of the final disciples of the Ben Ish Hai--the
last leader of Iraqi Jewry under the Turkish sultan.
Ben Ish Hai had a great love for the holy land and generously
gave his moral and financial support to several charity
funds in Jerusalem. As a result of his influence, the
Baghdadi born millionaire, Yosef Abraham Shalom of Calcutta,
India bequeathed a sizable amount of money to the renowned
Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the old city of Jerusalem, a Sephardic
yeshiva that Hakham Yishak Kaduri would later attend.
The Ben Ish Hai had traveled to Jerusalem from Iraq, via
Damascus, in 1869. There is no doubt that his experiences
and passion would later influence his student, the young
Kaduri who would eventually make relocate to Jerusalem
before his 18th birthday.
1909 when Hakham Yosef Haim died, the still young Yishak
Kaduri was living in land that was still under the Ottoman
Empire. When the Turkish lands fell following World War
I, the new international boundaries of the modern 20th-century
state of Iraq were drawn. These borders bore little resemblance
to those of the provinces of Ottoman Iraq. On the west
and south, Iraq connected to the sands of the Syrian and
Arabian deserts. It was during this period of turmoil
and international political change that Yishak Kaduri
emigrated to Eres Israel (the land of Israel).
there, he studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and became
a student of the kabbalists who had worked in Jerusalem
since the beginning of the 19th century. This group included
Hakham Salman Eliyahu, father of the former Rishon L'Sion,
Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Mordehai Eliyahu.
1998 a most unusual meeting took place in Jordan involving
Hakham Yishak Kaduri and King Hussein of Jordan. The interaction
between the Jordanian leader and the rabbi started years
previous when the rabbi sent a message calling upon Hussein
to work towards peace in the world. Kaduri had flown to
Jordan as a personal guest of King Hussein, but he didnt
join the rest of the delegation on the specially prepared
flight or later in a car to the mountain, instead, he
was flown in a helicopter piloted by Hussein himself.
Hakham Kaduri would be taken to the burial location of
Aaron the High Priest, brother of Moshe, buried on Mount
Hor in modern Jordan.
was an unusual visit, as King Hussein had been a virulent
enemy of the Jews for decades. He is remembered as the
man who called upon the destruction of Israel, severely
desecrated the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives,
and whose troops destroyed every single synagogue in the
Old City of Jerusalem before 1967. But before the meeting,
Hakham Kaduri's son clarified that his father would not
be visiting the king in Amman for an official visit. He
stated the purpose of the trip was only to pray at the
gravesite of Aaron.
his later years, Hakham Kaduri lived in the Bukharim neighborhood
of Jerusalem and was associated with the Nachalat Yishak
Yeshiva. He was an expert on making religious amulets
and many members of the public possess a gold or silver
amulet of his. It was said Kaduri had learned from the
great kabbalists of previous generations the practice
of writing amulets which heal, enhance fertility, or were
able to being success. Every weekend many people, locals
and visitors, would visit the rabbi to kiss his hand out
of respect or to get a special blessing for marriage,
health or financial stability.
Kaduri and the rabbis of Jerusalem never accepted the
commercial exploitation of the Jewish tradition of kabbalah
by cult teaching facilities located in Buenos Aires, London,
Los Angeles, New York, Tel Aviv and elsewhere. Kaduri
realized that the international kabbalah educational facilities,
each with its own teacher called rav, were
nothing but sham operations to gather billions of dollars
from easily enticed victims. When the cultish organizations
were joined with a well known pop singer who similarly
exploited kabbalah for her own gain, Hakham Kaduri issued
a statement declaring that people who supported them were
endangering their souls.
Sephardic rabbi had been hospitalized and was in the intensive
care unit at Jerusalems Bikur Holim Hospital after
being diagnosed with pneumonia. Prayers and well wishes
streamed in from all over the world for the ailing elder.
Former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef visited Hakham Kaduri
at the Hospital and called upon well-wishers worldwide
to recite the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) on his
behalf. The current Sephardic chief rabbi, Hakham Shelomo
Amar, held a special prayer session for Hakham Kaduri
at the Western Wall, the Kotel plaza in Jerusalem.
Kaduri is survived by a wife, Rabbanit Dorit Kaduri, many
children, grand children and great-grandchildren. His
loss is another fracture in the chain that connects the
Jewish people to the rabbis of yesteryear; he was one
of the last who was schooled in the Sephardic traditions
that developed over many centuries in the Ottoman lands
where the Sephardic Jews found refuge and thrived for
hundreds of years before the modern State of Israel was
Dayan Ha Emet. May the Almighty comfort the family of
Hakham Yishak ben Tufaha among the mourners of Sion and