Revered Israeli mystic who cursed Saddam and criticized Madonna dies

&to=' target=_blank>Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri, a revered mystic who cursed Saddam Hussein, criticized Madonna and influenced Israeli elections, died late Saturday after a lengthy bout with pneumonia. He was said to be at least 106 years old.

Even at his advanced age, Kadouri, a sage of the Kabbalah school of mystical thought, 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," 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.

Despite his great prestige, Kadouri retained his modest lifestyle to the end of his days: The only sign of an upscale move was his switch in the past few years to Marlboro Lights from Israeli-made Noblesse cigarettes.

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