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B'siyata d'shmaya - With the help of Heaven


Rav Kadouri Passes Away At 106

By Shelomo Alfassa February 3, 2006 The Jewish Press

(Main cover photo and article on page 3)

On Shabbat Tevet 28 (January 28), one of Israel's most revered rabbis, Hakham Yishak Kadouri of Jerusalem, passed away. The elderly mekubal (kabbalist) was said to be about 106 years old.

Hakham Kadouri was born in Ottoman Turkish Iraq around 1897. In the Sephardic tradition, the young Yishak Kadouri was a man of the world and a man of Torah. 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), before he was 13. Hakham Yishak Kadouri 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.

When the Turkish lands fell following World War I, the new boundaries of modern Iraq were drawn and it was during this period of turmoil and international political change that the young Yishak Kadouri emigrated to the Holy Land.

Once there, he studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and became a student of the kabbalists who had studied in Jerusalem since the beginning of the 19th century. This group included Hakham Salman Eliyahu, father of the former Rishon L'Tzion, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordehai Eliyahu.

In 1998 an unusual meeting took place in Jordan involving Hakham Yishak Kadouri and King Hussein of Jordan. The interaction between the Jordanian leader and the rabbi began years earlier when the rabbi sent a message calling upon Hussein to work toward peace in the world. Rabbi Kadouri was flown to Jordan as a personal guest of King Hussein and was taken in a helicopter piloted by Hussein himself to the burial place of Aaron the High Priest, brother of Moses, on Mount Hor in modern Jordan.

In his later years, Hakham Kadouri lived in the Bukharim neighborhood of Jerusalem and was associated with the Nachalat Yishak Yeshiva. Many Jews, in Israel and abroad, possess a gold or silver amulet made by Rabbi Kadouri. It was said he had learned from the great kabbalists of previous generations the practice of writing amulets that could heal, enhance fertility, or bring success. Every weekend throngs of people would visit the rabbi to kiss his hand out of respect, a Sephardic custom, or receive a special blessing for marriage, health or financial stability.

Hakham Kadouri had been hospitalized and was in the intensive care unit at Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia. Prayers and well wishes streamed in from all over the world. Former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef visited him 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, Shlomo Amar, held a special prayer session for Hakham Kadouri at the Western Wall.

Hakham Kadouri's funeral was attended by an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people. He is survived by his wife, Rabbanit Dorit Kadouri, and many children, grand children and great-grandchildren. He was one of the last Kabbalists schooled in the Sephardic traditions that developed over many centuries in the Ottoman lands where Jews found refuge for hundreds of years.