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Rabbi Kadouri dies at 106

The ''kabbalist sage'' Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri died last night at Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital, following complications from pneumonia. The funeral for the revered mystic, who was thought to be at least 106, will take place today in Jerusalem.
Kadouri was hospitalized in intensive care for the past two weeks, unconscious and on a respirator. Yesterday, his liver failed while he was undergoing surgery, and he was pronounced dead a few hours later. Hundreds of men and women gathered outside the hospital. Many wept.
When Shabbat ended, and Kadouri's condition appeared critical, his family members were called in to say their good-byes and rabbis were summoned to the hospital to hold the vidui (confession) prayer since Kadouri could not perform the duty himself.
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar arrived soon after Kadouri's death was announced, to pray for his soul.
All of the ultra-orthodox communities, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, published condolence announcements last night following the rabbi's death.
Even at his advanced age, Kadouri was sought out for blessings by believers suffering from illnesses or seeking heavenly favors.
''Thousands and thousands of people have benefited from his blessings - cancer patients, heart patients, couples without children's said Moshe Nimni, his chief aide.
People seeking blessings would crowd his house and sometimes line up outside, waiting for an unintelligible incantation.
For the last decade, the frail, thin kabbalist with wispy white beard and trademark cylindrical headgear, did not speak loudly enough to be heard. His pronouncements were relayed by his sons, who would lean down and place their ears close to his lips. A reported word from the venerated rabbi could move political mountains.
In 2000, a little-known MK named Moshe Katsav ran for president against the world renowned Shimon Peres. Katsav won a shocking victory after Kadouri said he had a ''vision'' that Katsav was favored by the heavens - and all 17 members of Shas voted for Katsav
In 1999, Kadouri galvanized opposition to an emerging peace deal with Syria in exchange for the Golan Heights. At a Shas rally he proclaimed that the plateau "must not be given back to the genitles". The talks fell through a year later.
In 1998, he pronounced a curse on Saddam Hussein, willing him to be removed from power. ''Let fear fall upon them (the Iraqis)," he said, after Saddam threatened Israel. ''Let the curse be transferred to them".
Once Kadouri was in such demand that Shas politicos bundled him into a helicopter and flew him over several election gatherings to spread his spiritual grace over as wide an area as possible.

Pop star Madonna did not escape his critical gaze, either. One of the most prominent of the glitterati who have taken up Kabbalah, Madonna made a high-energy trip to Israel in 2004, including a midnight visit to the grave of a sage.
Kadouri was not moved.
"It is forbidden to teach Kabbalah to a non-Jew," he said, dismissing the new movement in its entirety.
By Jewish tradition, mysticism and Zohar, the mystical book at the base of Kabbalah, are so complicated and even dangerous that only Jews over the age of 40 can approach them.

The Scribe:
It is interesting that when Rabbi Kadouri came to visit London, some 10 years ago, at the invitation of Dr. Sami Shmoun, he was visited by Mr. Naim Dangoor and other leaders of the Iraqi Jewish community in London.
When N. Dangoor got up to leave, Rabbi Kadouri stood up and sat in the chair that Naim Dangoor has occupied.





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