Kaduri funeral draws over 200,000

Famed Kabbalist laid to rest at Har Hamenuhot in Givat Shaul.

kadouri 88 298 (photo credit: AP [File])
kadouri 88 298
(photo credit: AP [File])
Over 200,000 mourners, haredi, modern Orthodox and secular, jammed the streets surrounding the Nachalat Yitzhak yeshiva in Jerusalem's Bukhari neighborhood on Sunday to honor the eldest of kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, who passed away Saturday night. Kaduri, who was lucid and chatty up until two weeks ago, was between 104 and 114, depending on who one asked. In his eulogy, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar relayed to the teeming mass of humanity that gathered outside the yeshiva Kaduri's wish that each and every person present accept upon himself or herself one good deed. "He was sacrificed for all of us," said Amar. "We must repent." Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, known as the head of the "tshuva movement," a grassroots push to encourage religious observance, spoke of Kaduri's righteousness in heart piercing lamentations. "He was our spiritual light tower," cried Elbaz. "We are lost without him." Rabbi Ya'acov Hilel, head of the Ahavat Shalom Yeshiva and a respected teacher of Kabbala, said that Kaduri was not just a Jewish mystic. "He was a role model for the pursuit of truth who mastered anger, never argued, nor was he ever jealous or hateful. He had nothing but love for the Jewish people." Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas's spiritual leader and the most respected Sephardi halachic authority alive, also eulogized Kaduri. But Yosef's unclear pronunciation, coupled with the poor sound quality, made his short speech impossible to understand. Kaduri's popularity among all walks of the Jewish people was apparent in the crowd. Viewed from a distance, the dominant colors of the masses that arrived in Jerusalem were black and dirge blue. But interspersed were colors that revealed non-haredi religious affiliations. There were secular men who had hastily pinned throw-away kippot to their heads and women who wore pants. Residents of Nahariya, Beersheva and Afula coupled with mourners from Netivot and Bnei Brak. Judy Nir-Moses-Shalom, secular wife of MK Silvan Shalom (Likud), told Army Radio of the amulet she received from Kaduri. "I almost cried when I heard," said Moses. "He was so pure and clean." The crowding was so severe in the narrow streets of Jerusalem's Bukhari neighborhood that more than ten people fainted, a policeman's leg was bruised after being inadvertently knocked over and trampled and another man's chest was crushed after he was trapped under a fence uprooted by the pushing mobs. At least one careless onlooker, among dozens who tried to escape the crowds by climbing to higher ground, fell from a rooftop. Every person present in a kilometer radius of the yeshiva between 12:00 noon and 1:30 p.m. - the peak of the crowding during which the eulogies were given - experienced the sporadic frantic fear of being bowled over and trampled underfoot or crushed against a building, a lamppost or a parked car. There were repeated threats by the organizers that the speeches, which were cut short, would be halted if the pushing continued. The sound system was disconnected by the unbridled masses, creating short oases of quiet between the booming echoes of speeches of praise. Moshe Nimni, one of Kaduri's closest aides, said 14 planes of Kaduri supporters arrived from France to take part in the funeral. "The Beit Yisrael Internet site has been flooded with stories of Kaduri's miracles," said Nimni. "Whether it is a woman who gave birth after many barren years or a someone who was healed from his sickness." Nimni said that 90,000 had volunteered to read psalms for Kaduri's soul. Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, son of kabbalist Rabbi David Batzri, said he did not believe Kaduri was no longer with the living. "I was sure the Messiah would come," said Batzri. After two attempts Rabbi David Batzri gave up trying to overcome his near-hysterical crying to eulogize. Kaduri passed away on Saturday night of complications caused by pneumonia. This is an unpropitious time to die according to Jewish mysticism, because this is the time that souls that are given a reprieve from gehinom (hell) during the Sabbath must return. Dying on Sabbath eve is a positive sign since the soul makes the transition into the Sabbath immediately. However, Batzri said that for a man like Kaduri this rule did not apply. "Perhaps through his merits he saved all those souls that were on their way back to gehinom," ventured Batzri. In kabbalist thought it is believed that during the first seven days of mourning the soul is in constant transit between the gravesite and the house of the deceased, explained Batzri. On the seventh day, the soul adjusts to the idea that the body is buried. Kabbalists and Hassidim influenced by the thought of Rabbi Yitzhak Ashkenazi Luria (the Ari) erect a headstone in order to give the soul a place to rest.