Rabbi Yitzchak Kadouri was born in Baghdad, (some say in 1902 - although his true birth year isn't known for sure), then part of the Ottoman Turkish vilayets, to Rabbi Katchouri Diba ben Aziza, who was a spice trader.
As a youngster, Kaduri excelled in his studies and began learning Kabbalah while still in his teens, a study that would last his entire life. He was a child student of the Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, d. 1909) and studied at the Zilka Yeshivah in Baghdad.
Rabbi Kaduri moved to the British Mandate of Palestine (Eretz Israel, the Holy Land) in 1923 upon the advice of the elders of Baghdad, who hoped that his scholarship and piety would stop the incursion of Zionism in the post-World War I state. It was here that he changed his name from Diba to Kaduri.
He went to study at the Shoshanim LeDavid Yeshiva for kabbalists from Iraq. There he learned from the leading kabbalists of the time, including Rabbi Yehuda Ftaya, author of Beit Lechem Yehudah, and Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Sofer, author of Kaf Hachaim. He later immersed himself in regular Talmudic study and rabbinical law in the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old City, where he also studied Kabbalah with the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Ezra Attiya, Rabbi Saliman Eliyahu (father of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu), and other learned rabbis.
In 1934, Rabbi Kaduri and his family moved to the Old City, where the Porat Yosef Yeshivah gave him an apartment nearby with a job of binding the yeshivah's books and copying over rare manuscripts in the yeshivah's library. The books remained in the yeshivah's library, while the copies of manuscripts were stored in Rabbi Kaduri's personal library. Before binding each book, he would study it intently, committing it to memory. He was reputed to have photographic memory and also mastered the Talmud by heart, including the adjoining Rashi and Tosafot commentaries.
During the period of Arab-Israeli friction that led up to the Israeli war of Independence, the Porat Yosef Yeshivah was virtually turned into a fortress against frequent flashes of violence. When the Jewish quarter of the Old City fell to the invading Jordanian Army, the Jordanians set fire to the yeshivah and all surrounding houses, destroying all the books and manuscripts that Rabbi Kaduri could not smuggle to Beit El Yeshiva (Yeshivat HaMekubalim) in Jerusalem. He knew all the writings of Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the founder of modern Kabbalah by heart. After the passing of the leading kabbalist, Rabbi Efraim Hakohen, in 1989, the remaining kabbalists appointed Rabbi Kaduri as their head.
Rabbi Kaduri did not publish any of the works that he authored on Kabbalah; he allowed only students of Kabbalah to study them. He did publish some articles criticizing those who engage in practical Kabbalah - the popular dissemination of advice or amulets, often for a price.
Blessings, amulets and prophecies
Over the years, thousands of people (mainly but not exclusively Sephardi Jews) would come to seek his advice, blessings and amulets which he would create specifically for the individual in need. He had learned the Kabbalistic secrets of the amulets from his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Fatiyah. Many people directly attributed personal miracles to receiving a blessing from Rabbi Kaduri, such as recovery from severe illnesses and diseases, children born to couples with fertility problems, finding a spouse, and economic blessings.
His Yeshiva Nachalat Yitzchak was located adjacent to the family home in the Bukharim neighbourhood of Jerusalem. His grandson, Yossi Kaduri, took part in this endeavour with him Kaduri was seen as a prophesier. In late 2004, Kaduri said "Great tragedies in the world are foreseen" two weeks before the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Kaduri lived a life of poverty and simplicity. He ate little, spoke little, and prayed each month at the gravesites of tzaddikim in Israel.
In January 2006, Rabbi Kaduri was hospitalized with pneumonia in the Bikur Holim Hospital in Jerusalem. He died at around 10 p.m. January 28, 2006 (29 Tevet 5766). He was alert and lucid until his last day.
An estimated 300,000 people took part in his funeral procession on January 29, which started from the Nachalat Yitzchak Yeshivah and wound its way through the streets of Jerusalem to the Givat Shaul cemetery near the entrance to the city of Jerusalem.