Rabbi Itzhak

  • Issue: December 2007
  • Designers: Itzhak Yamin & Meir Eshel
  • Stamps Size: 40.0 mm x 30.8 mm
  • Plates no.: 699 (no phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Rabbi Itzhak Kaduri (1902-2006) was born to an ordinary Jewish family in Baghdad. His father, Ze'ev Dibbah, was a perfumer. As a youngster, he became a student at the Beit Zilkah Yeshiva. It is told that by the age of seventeen, he had already gained fame as a prodigy Following a successful lesson he gave, his teachers advised him about the wisdom of speaking as little as possible; since then, he has adopted a habit of silence. Later on he married Sarah, and made a living as a bookbinder. This trade was a blessing for him, since he was able to read books he could not otherwise afford.

In 1922 or thereabouts Rabbi Kaduri emigrated to the Eretz Israel, settled in Jerusalem and joined the recently established Shoshanim leDavid, a Babylonian yeshiva in the Beit Israel quarter, headed by Rabbi Yaacov Haim Sofer. Later on he joined the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, established in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1923, where a group of rabbinical students were engaged in the study of the arcane, following the customs of the kabbalists. This group was headed by Rabbi Salman Eliahu (whose son, Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, was to become Chief Sephardic Rabbi), then by Rabbi Ephraim Hakohen. Both thought highly of Rabbi Kadurl, and he gained much esoteric knowledge from them.

During Israel's War of Independence the Old City fell into Jordanian hands and Rabbi Kaduri moved to the Bukharan quarter of Jerusalem. The Porat Yosef Yeshiva was reestablished in the Geula quarter and he remained a student there whilst also studying at the Belt El Kabbalist Yeshiva. By that time he became involved in teaching kabbalah to outstanding young students. In prayer, he followed the Luria tradition, according to the siddur compiled by Rabbi Shalom Shar'abi, a distinguished 18th century kabbalist. He also made it his habit, on the first eve of every month, to prostrate himself upon holy graves, and to conduct kabbalistic devotions for the salvation of the people of Israel, in which he was joined by his colleagues and students, as well as members of the public.

By the 1960s Rabbi Kaduri has acquired a reputation as a person of great distinction, well versed in the arcane, whose blessings and prayers for individuals and for the public at large were well received in heaven. More and more people were approaching him now, and all were received with simple kindness; he always found time for his supplicants, lovingly granting their requests for blessing and advice. Troubled people who had come to him desperate and depressed would leave his presence strengthened and hopeful. He also used amulets which he made himself, to alleviate the suffering of his supplicants, and these were widely regarded as effective. Indeed, numerous stories are still being told about the miracles he has worked.

Despite his ongoing involvement in private and public affairs, he intensified his devotion to a lifestyle of asceticism, moderation and silence, religious study and prayers. What little time he had left was spent on book binding for his family's livelihood.

Rabbi Itzhak Kaduri gained sudden notoriety in the mass media during the late 1980s, when the Shas political party chose to use his popularity, his blessings and his cameos to strengthen its electoral appeal. This party put Rabbi Kaduri at the top of its spiritual leadership alongside with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Rabbi Kaduri's amulets thus became a controversial issue in several elections campaigns.

A new yeshiva was founded in Jerusalem in the 1990s, headed by Rabbi Kaduri and called after him, Nahalat Itzhak, where kabbalah and devotions are extensively studied. He lived to a ripe old age, following a regular daily schedule and remaining of sound mind until his very last days. A couple of weeks before he died he fell ill and was hospitalized. He passed away on Saturday night, January 29th, 2006, survived by his son and daughter.

Little is known about Rabbi Kaduri's personality, life story and conduct. He has never written for publication, leaving behind him nothing in writing. His familiarity with esoteric kabbalistic literature was well known, yet his familiarity with the exoteric he always kept to himself. Testimonies by those who knew him well make it clear that he was well versed in mainstream rabbinical literature, but he never made a public show of it. His memory was phenomenal.

His powers and greatness are attested to by tens of thousands members of the public, from every walk of life, ethnic group and shade of opinion, who came to him for a blessing at a time of distress and need. Hundreds of thousands took the trouble to come to Jerusalem in order to attend his funeral. May he rest in peace.

Rabbi Dr. Moshe Amar

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Rabbi Itzhak