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Harav Kaduri - On Learning Kabbalah    

Harav Kaduri - On Learning Kabbalah

Rabbi Kaduri's yartzheit (date of passing) is 28th of Tevet (Tuesday). He was considered the last of the great Sefardi Kabalists.


Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, of saintly and blessed memory (1898-2006)

Rav Kaduri was considered the last of the great Sefardi Kabbalists. There were thousands of eyewitness accounts which showed he possessed clairvoyant powers. For example, a wealthy man once came to him and asked him to bless his silver kiddush goblet. Years later, at his daughter's wedding in America, the wealthy man wanted to use the goblet but at the last moment, he couldn't find it. He panicked and eventually called Rav Kaduri in Israel and asked him what he should do. Rav Kaduri paused for a moment, then gave him the name of the man at the wedding party who had stolen the goblet. (From the book "HaRav Kaduri")
Some quotes from the book:"HaRav Kaduri" compiled by his students:
* His daily learning schedule consisted of much learning of Gemora and Shulchan Aruch (Talmud and Jewish law), and he would permit the study of Kabbalah ONLY to those who demonstrated broad knowledge in the revealed portion of Torah (Talmud and Shulchan Aruch). He would often say 'It is forbidden to study Kabbalah before learning Halachah and Gemora'. His helpers would testify that most of his learning was in Talmud Bavli, tractate after tractate, in order.
* His student, Rav Beniyahu Shmueli would say, "It is important to emphasize very clearly that he did not just study Kabbalah. He would also learn much Shas U'Poskim (Talmud and Halacha). Every time we would visit him, we would see him sitting and learning the Talmud in depth in the way he received from his teacher, the Sages of Yeshivas Porat Yosef.... Twenty six students were in his inner circle of talmidim of which he was the head. And only a person who was married could sit with them (pg.16)....
* Rav Kaduri would say, "Whoever did not fill his stomach with Shas U'Poskim (Talmud and Halacha), Gemora and Shulchan Aruch (Talmud and Jewish law), is not fit to learn Kabbalah." (pg104)
* In the early Yeshiva (about 50 years ago) there were 60 kabbalists, who studied Kabbalahaccording to the way of the holy Arizal. And in that time, only those who were sharp scholars who had aleady filled their stomachs with Shas U'Poskim (Talmud and Halacha). The title "Mekubal" (kabbalist) was given only to one who studied Kabbalah for at least 15 years and prayed with the kavanos of the Rashash (special kabbalistic permutations and combinations of divine names and attributes of G-d).
 * A higher level than "Mekubal" was "Mekaven" (more advanced kavanos). Each level had its conditions. Rav Kaduri was a "Mekaven".
Some quotes from the book Etz Chaim by Rabbi Chaim Vital zt'l
(from Etz Chaim Introduction)
1. The beginning of everything is the fear of G-d, to reach fear of punishment, in order not to come to any sin. Fear from awe comes only from great wisdom.
2. The main desire is to destroy thorns in the vineyard. And certainly the klipos (impure forces) will come to fight him to make him sin. Therefore do not come to any sin, even unintentional, so that they will not have any connection with you.
3. Do not eat meat or drink wine during week, except on Shabbat. Seek peace and don't be irritated by anything small or big. And all the more, don't get angry.
4. Guard all details of mitzvos, even rabbinic decrees.
5. Guard yourself from anger, even when rebuking your children. No anger whatsoever!
6. Guard yourself from arrogance.
7. Every suffering that comes along, examine your ways and repent.
8. Immerse in a mikve when needed.
9. Don't let a night go by without doing a cheshbon hanefesh and vidui (examining your ways and repenting on any sins). That way, you go to sleep with a clean "record". 
10. Guard yourself from every word that is not for a mitzva or is not necessary. Especially, do not talk during tefilla.
11. Before entering the synagogue, take to heart the mitzvah to "love your fellow as yourself".
12. Put G-d's (Y-H-V-H) name before your eyes always and tremble from before Him. (See the first halachah in Shulchan Aruch - Rama and "Shaarei Kedusha" part 4 gate 3)
13.Toil in all four levels of Torah ("Pardes": pshat-simple meaning, remez-allegorical meaning, derash-Midrashim, sod-Kabbalah). No secrets are given to those empty of wisdom.
14. Don't speak unnecessary words as much as possible, and for everything you don't understand - cry on it in prayer to G-d as much as possible.
* * *
"At first one must learn Halachot and fulfill them because they are like bread which satiate, and only afterwards toil in the secrets which are compared to wine and oil. Whoever switches around the order, will not succeed and he will lose everything." (Vilna Gaon on Mishlei/Proverbs 21:17)
Editor’s comment:

Proficiency in the Kabalah without proficiency in the Talmud first is like a child reading an advanced physics book. Talmudic study, among other things, teaches one to think clearly and discern the absolute truth in a matter which is the foundation of a man. The Kabalah is written in hidden, allegoric form. Only one who has developed his intellect through years of in-depth Talmudic study is capable of even beginning to decipher the meaning from the allegory. One who has not reached this level will take the allegories too literally and will get at best, nowhere.
(Reprinted with kind permission of www.dafyomireview.com)

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