Hakham Yishak Kadouri
HakhamKadouri was born in Ottoman Turkish Iraq around 1898. In the Sephardic tradition, the young YishakKadouri 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 z”l (known as the Ben Ish Hai), before he was 13. HakhamYishakKadouri 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 YishakKadouriimmigrated 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 z”l, father of the former RishonL’Tzion, Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordehai Eliyahu z”l.
He was married to his wife, RabbanitDoritKadouri, and together had many children, grand children and great-grandchildren.
In his later years, HakhamKadouri lived in the Bukharim neighborhood of Jerusalem and was associated with the NachalatYishak 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.
HakhamKadouri had been hospitalized and was in the intensive care unit at Jerusalem’s BikurHolim Hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia. Prayers and well wishes streamed in from all over the world. Former chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”l 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 HakhamKadouri at the Western Wall.
An estimated of 200,000 to 300,000 people attended HakhamKadouri’s funeral. 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.