Sunday, January 29, 2006

End of an Era. The Passing of Rav Kadouri, z'tl.

Growing up in the US in an Ashkenazi, Litvish, yeshivish family, the concept of Kabbala and Jewish mysticism was always looked upon as something "not for us." Learn enough gemara and halacha and you'll be able to get by without ever needing to think about this strange and foreign world.

Kabbala was for Sephardim or Chassidim; a rational Jameel didn't need to confront it at all.

My first exposure to "Kabbalists" was when I learned in Yeshiva in Israel in the 1980s. I had never heard the names "Ben Ish Chai", "Baba Sali", and "Rav Kadouri" before, yet my sephardi friends in Yeshiva taught me all about these masters of Kabbala. I took all these stories with more than a grain of salt; "Masters of Kabbala" reminded me too much of the Jedi masters from the fantasy world of Star Wars. As a 17 year old rational Yeshiva student, I looked upon the entire concept with disdain. I admit, that was probably rather presumptuous and arrogant of me at the time, but how could I have known any better?

A very rational, yeshivish cousin of mine told me of his first exposure to Rav Kadouri; instead of the Mir, my cousin went to Yeshivat HaNegev. One day, a group of yeshiva students came from Jerusalem to visit Rav Kadouri at Yeshivat HaNegev. At some point, totally out of character, Rav Kadouri yelled at one of the students, who turned pale, then red with embarrassment. My cousin, a die-hard Litvak recounted the story to me that after the yeshiva students went back to Jerusalem in 2 cabs, Rav Kadouri explained that he "felt" that the yeshiva student he had singled out had a death wish on him, and its considered "death" to be embarrassed, so Rav Kadouri wanted to remove this person's death wish.

My cousin related that he thought the entire story was rather weird. Till they got the phone call a few hours later, that the yeshiva student's cab flipped over, caught fire, and exploded. The driver didn't make it but the yeshiva student did. My cousin related that being in the presence of Rav Kadouri was spiritually overwhelming (and rather scary), even for a Litvak.

Scoff as you may when you read or hear such stories, but Rav Kadouri was a "Lover of Israel" -- and dedicated his entire life towards helping fellow Jews. Religious or Secular, Left, Right, or off the map, Rav Kadouri would meet with any Jew, and generously give out brachot for success and health. Rav Kadouri was the last of a generations of elder Kabbalists. They weren't of the ilk that did things for money or persued corruption (like many others have done in the past 20 years), but he possessed a genuine love and caring for the Jewish people.

Personally, I never believed much in the "Kabballa" side of Judaism, and was always bothered by such stories. Yet, ever since moving to Israel, where its obvious that we live in the land of miracles (anyone who's ever done IDF reserve duty knows that its a miracle the army functions at all), my attitude towards Kabbala and the Kabbalists changed. I don't scorn it anymore, and decided that there are things way out of my realm of understanding that I should respect and observe from a distance.

While I'm not a Lubavitcher in the slightest, I still went to the Rebbe in the 1980's to get a bracha and a dollar. I kept the dollar in my wallet and said I would give that dollar to tzedakka as soon as I merited moving to Israel. 15 years ago, the morning after landing in Israel, I kept my promise and gave that dollar to tzedakka at the Kotel (much to the chagrin of my Lubavitch friends who said I should have kept it). I told them I didn't need it anymore since I kept it to make aliya.

As the story goes, Rav Kadouri was given a Bracha from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to "Live in the times of Mashiach". What exactly that means, I don't know...but as believing Jews, rational Jews, we also believe in the Rambam's 13 principles of faith that we await the coming of Mashiach daily. And if not today, then tomorrow.

Rav Kadouri died last night at the age of 104 (to 114 depending on who you ask).

May his memory be a blessing for all of Klal Yisrael.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Aviel said...

Nice story.

westbankmama said...

Very well said. We've lost a tzaddik at a time when we really need every one.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I heard it was the Ben Ish Hhai who told R' Kadouri that he would live to see the mashiahh.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Steg: I believe the Ben Ish Chai told Rav Kadouri he would live a long life, yet it was the Lubavitcher who said he would merit to live in the times of Mashiach.

I could be wrong though.

Elchonon said...

Jameel is right, The ben ish chai blessed him with long life. The lubavitcher rebbe blessed him to merit in seeing moshiach...

JAMEEL!!!! how could you give away the dollar!! your supposed to swap it with another dollar...

I have carried one of the dollars I have from the rebbe in my wallet for 5 years..

I survived hundreds of rockets in gush katif, 4 direct shootings at cars i was in. maybe 15? firebomb attacks. and countless stone throwings...

While many others survived this and more. i credit it to the dollar.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Elchonon: Giving the dollar from the Rebbe to Tzedaka, at the Kotel, within 24 hours of making aliya was the best possible thing I could have done with it.

Don't only credit the dollar -- your actions and the way you behave are far more important.

Yuddy L said...

Hang on....
A guy who went to Breuers for Elementary School and then YU????

And I thought I knew u...go figure

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yuddy L: I guess you have me confused with someone else.

Jameel Rashid's a pretty common name; people get us confused alot.

Search the Muqata


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