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The Zaken HaMekubalim: Rav Yitzchak Kaduri

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

The world of Kabbalah is shrouded in secrecy. Those that seek

to climb the rungs of divine service and perfect it know that the more

one reveals, the more one loses. That’s why it’s often difficult to write

about big Kabbalists (Mekubalim). They barely reveal anything about

themselves and our limited eyes cannot comprehend the depth of

their thoughts and devotions. Nevertheless, they are the ones making

open miracles and bringing salvations.

Few Kabbalists can compare to Rav Yitzchak Kaduri.

Nicknamed the Zaken HaMekubalim (The Elder of the Kabbalists) for

his wisdom and piety, Rav Kaduri was one of the last few, well-versed

in the arts of miracles and amulets.

As customary of all Sephardi Mekubalim, Rav Kaduri practiced

the Kavanot of the Rashash. He was known for curing ilnesses and

infertility through his blessings and amulets which were very sought

after. While he published no books, a single edition of his writings

were published after his passing, which some estimate happened

when he was over 110 years old.

Born in Baghdad around 1902, he received a blessing for long

life from the Ben Ish Chai himself and even kept one of his belts

throughout his life. His funeral hosted over half a million followers

one of the largest in the history of modern Israel.

While young he studied under the Ben Ish Chai and Rav Yehuda

Fetayah, and many already perceived he was destined for greatness.

He posessed incredible photographic memory and worked as a

bookbinder, making sure to memorise the book he was binding

before returning it to the owner.

Rav Kaduri moved to the old city with his family around 1934

and began his bookbinding job for the Yeshivat Porat Yosef. This gave

him the opportunity to study the books and amass a large knowledge

of all the Talmud, including Rashi and Tosfot, as well as Kabbalistic


The custom of the Mekubalim have always been to live a life of

poverty and simplicity. This was done in order to minimize the

weight of physicality in order to receive the spiritual flow. Rav Kaduri

was known to fast frequently, speak very little, and also to visit the

graves of tzaddikim.

It’s often amazing to see the degree of detachment to reality

many Mekubalim have. To their credit, their lack of knowledge in

mundane things we often consider basic are a testament of their

great level.

In a few occasions, Rav Kaduri travelled to give shiurim

(classes) on Kabbalah. Once he was going to Tzfat in a car driven by

one of his attendents. The class was scheduled to start in about 15

minutes, but the car at that time couldn’t go faster. There was still a

long way to go and Rav Kaduri asked him “Can’t we go faster? We are

going to be late!”. The attendant replied “Believe me Rabbi, I’m going

as fast as I can! Can’t you teleport us there?”. As we know, Rav Chaim

Vital wrote in Sefer HaChezionot (Book of Visions), he once saved his

own life using one of the divine names and teleported himself from

Jerusalem to Damascus. These techniques were known to only a few

select individuals and carried great risks for using.

“I don’t make use of that for these occasions”, came the reply.

Without thinking twice, Rav Kaduri took the attendant’s hand, put it

on the gear stick and cried “quick, let’s mix the gas more!”. To

everyone’s astonishment, the car actually began going faster!

Someone once asked him after this episode whether Rav

Kaduri used to “bind angels by oaths”. This is also one of the very

dangerous Kabbalistic techniques to have them do one’s bidding. The

problem is that while they may end up doing a person’s will, they

inevitably come back for revenge for having used them for petty

purposes. One needs to be on a really high level to bind an angel by

an oath and even so do it entirely L’Shem Shamayim (for Divine

purposes). To this question, Rav Kaduri replied “I don’t, but the

angels see that I’m an old man and just end up helping me without

me asking”.

The following story can give us a glimpse of his legendary

Tzaddikut (righteousness). Once Rav Kaduri was engaged in writing

an amulet. For those that don’t know, real amulets are also incredibly

risky for the writer, and demand tremendous Fear of Heaven and

fasting to atone for making them. Not only that, but they require a

few days of fasting while writing to complete them.

While engaged in it, his wife Dorit called him for lunch, which

mostly consisted of the Bamba snack. Rav Kaduri was so

concentrated that he didn’t respond, making his wife call him again a

few times. When she came close to him, she accidentally tripped the

ink container on his table, and the amulet was completely sullied

with black ink. Days of prayer and fasting supposedly went to waste.

Instead of getting angry at her, Rav Kaduri simply smiled and said

“Ah, my dear wife, you always know what’s best. Thank you very


Rav Kaduri has also been closely monitoring the Geulah

(Redemption) process unfold. Once a student asked him for a signal

that Mashiach was close to revealing himself. The answered

surprised everyone: “When there will be elections, but after the

elections they won’t be able to form a government. This is the clear

sign of the time of the Geula!”

No one knew how to explain that cryptic statement, but

nowadays we see that we had 3 elections in 2 years and still have no

formed government!

May we get inspiration from the great Zaken HaMekubalim in

our divine service and follow his path in Avodat Hashem, with

simplicity and patience.

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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