Rabbi Yitzchak Kadoori was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 5659 (1898) to his father Rabbi Zev Dibah and his mother Tufacha. At the pinnacle of his life, he was known as the doyen of the Kabbalists. The one who continues to perpetuate his memory is Rabbi Meir Malka, chairman of the Foundation to Eternalize the Memory of Rabbi Kadoori, and the author of the book “Yeshuot Isaac” which tells the story of the greatest Kabbalist of our generation.
First of all, a brief biography: Rabbi Kadoori’s birth is not fully verified, though the prevailing view is that he was born in 1898. What is certain is that he was born on 16 Tishrei, the Ushpizin day of Isaac, so he was named after him. In his youth, he was sent to study in the Zilcha Beth Midrash, where he met the Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chaim ben Eliyahu). At the age of 17, he was called a prodigy for his wide-sweeping knowledge of Torah, and even delivered a discourse before the Torah sages in Baghdad.
Already in 1922, before the State of Israel came into being, Rabbi Kadoori came to the Holy Land and studied at the Porat Yosef and Shoshanim L’David Yeshivahs. His first wife was Sarah, and they had two children, David and Rachel. After the founding of the State, he began to study at the Beth El yeshivah for kabbalists and made a living as a bookbinder. After a period, he stood at the head of the Nachalat Yitzchak yeshivah for kabbalists, which was founded by his son, Rabbi David Kadoori.
Over the years, Rabbi Kadoori wrote “Pitchai Olam”, which is still unpublished. This is a five-volume series that deals with amulets, spiritual remedies, prayers, yichudim (meditation that causes divine unification in the supernal spheres), and more. His wife died in 1989, and in 1993, he married his second wife, Dorit.
On 29 Tevet 2006, Rabbi Kadoori passed away, and was buried in Jerusalem on Har Hamenuchot. His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands. If anyone thought that his great legacy had come to an end, it turns out that it has only just begun. Rabbi Meir Malka founded the Foundation to Eternalize the Memory of Rabbi Kadoori, helped build the shrine over his grave, and later wrote a book about the rabbi’s life.
Tens of thousands of people come every year to the site of Rabbi Kadoori’s grave, says Rabbi Malka. “We’ve seen great salvations take place following prayers here. I attribute that to the Rabbi paying us back for taking care of this place. I also lecture throughout the country about Rabbi Kadoori and his accomplishments and the salvations he achieved in his life.
Rabbi Malka’s acquaintance with his teacher Rabbi Kadoori began more than 20 years ago, when in 1990 he served as a cantor and shofar-blower in Rabbi Kadoori’s synagogue. “I remember after the first meeting I went home and thought ‘How did I have the merit to blow the shofar for the doyen of kabbalists in our generation?’” he recalls. “In the middle of the prayers, he would sometimes ‘elevate his soul’. Just disconnect himself from his body, and go up.”
How did you get the idea to write a book on the rabbi’s life?
“It was a miracle I was able to write the book in five months. There were chapters that I wrote, and suddenly an inner voice, as if it was the rabbi speaking, told me to change things. ‘Over here and over there it is not accurate.’ The book has 700 photos in addition to chapters about his life, his salvations, his spiritual remedies and also his funeral. People I do not even know started to come, bringing me material and stories of salvation, as if the rabbi sent them to me. I did not have to chase after any of them.”
What was special about Rabbi Kadoori, because of which he is still viewed as a prominent and unique personality today?
“The mystery. He is surrounded by so much mystery. He was called Isaac, which means ‘laughing’. He was all the time laughing, as if he was hiding something. For example, he used to smoke, and said that he did it to save suffering souls in hell. When he was 100 years old, they examined him in the hospital, and the doctor told him he had the clean lungs of a child. He did not smoke out of habit, and when they offered him a Marlboro he refused, and insisted on smoking cheap cigarettes. The main thing was that the smoke would accomplish its job. Another special thing was his preoccupation with amulets. He made an amulet for every kind and type of disease. He wrote on almonds, walnuts, apples and more. Once he made an almond spiritual rectification for a person in the Sea of Galilee, which aimed to increase the joy in the person’s heart. Without a doubt, he was a rare and special figure. A unique person in his generation.”