I’ve been asked for my thoughts on these several times, and my response to date is that Rav Ades could be trusted not to release anything that shouldn’t be released. Mostly, because despite them being released nearly four years ago, and myself getting a set not long after that, I had not spent sufficient time with them to be able to give a fully thought out answer. To date I have inched my way through them once, and I am going back for a second turn through with a notebook, pen and a lot of checking references. So here goes my attempt to discuss them intelligently.
First let’s talk about what they are. In short they are photostats of the pages of the personal notebooks of Rav Kaduri bound together in six volumes. This has its benefits, namely you know that what he writes and says hasn’t been tampered with in anyway to make it conform to their own ideas. It also has its detriments. First of those is that Rav Kaduri ZTzUK”L used a wildly different form of Hebrew script than the average modern Israeli, so one is left with needing to learn how to decipher his writing. Second, Rav Kaduri didn’t seem to use a consistent size notebook. He seems to have used everything from oversized spiral bound notebooks to the small 10 for 5shek pamphlet style notebooks. Which means that at times his handwriting appears rather large on the page, and at other times leaves you reaching for a magnifying glass. Did I mention that these were photostats? They are not high quality scans, more like photocopier quality(older photocopier quality) which leaves some of the pages a bit hard to read. Especially to eyes that are accustomed to the laser printing revolution in sefarim.
As you can see in the caption they are rather large volumes. Each one containing 200-300 pages of Rav Kaduri’s notes with occaisional explanatory notes of Rav Yaakov Ades put in here and there. Despite having read Rav Ades’ introduction, and suggested methodology to studying the books several times, I have to figure out what criteria Rav Ades used in determining when he would place his elucidations. Though I do often find them helpful, if in nothing else tracking down the various sefarim or specific pages within sefarim that Rav Kaduri is copying over. Something the Rav himself seems to mostly have neglected to do.
Now as far as content, which is usually what I get the questions about. While several news sites have said that they contain lachashim, and other bits of fanciful Kabbalah Maasit, that is simply not true. Yes there are thousands of segulot, and kameot, and even a few curses(though most have been expunged as can be readily seen) they conform with the parameters of acceptable Kabbalistic practice with Rav Kaduri wrote about in his haskamah to Rav Yaakov Hillel’s book Faith and Folly. Admittedly I have a passing interest in those things, but without an index(which the books lack) it is more a curiosity than a readily usable text(see above statement about a notebook). While there is a large amount of space dedicated to those things, they hardly make up the entirety of the six large volumes.
There are also large portions dealing with various topics from the Kitvei HaAri, Kavvanot, growing in Devekut, and numerous other subjects that deal with one’s Avodat HaShem. Usually this comes in the form of Rav Kaduri ZTzUK”L copying over large portions of various sefarim and writing a running commentary on them. If you are not Baki in the specific text, at times it is hard to know when the words of the author end and the words of the Rav begin. At times it is pretty seamless, other others it is a bit more obvious. To me this is the real value of these books, and would be worth publishing on its own. There are some pretty tough sugiout that the Rav tackles and elucidates.
The biggest downside of these sefarim is their price. They are currently going for 8000 shekel for the set($2100USD, yes you read that right). Which prices them well out of the range of the average avereich. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of change in that department, at least not positive change. When they first came out they were 6500 shekel and they have only gone up in price. Getting through the interview to get them is one thing, getting the cash is another. All together I would say that the intention is to keep them as much as possible out of the hands of the public at large.
PS There all the margins are visible and there are no crosses to be found.