Zvi Hirsch Kalischer

Zvi Hirsch Kalischer



Kalischer was born in Lissa (Leszno) in the Prussian Province of Posen. Destined for the rabbinate, he received his Talmudic education from Jacob of Lissa and Rabbi Akiva Eiger of Posen. After his marriage he left Lissa and settled in Thorn, where he spent the rest of his life. Here he took an active interest in the affairs of the Jewish community, and for more than forty years held the office of "Rabbinatsverweser" ("acting rabbi"). Disinterestedness was a prominent feature of his character; he refused to accept any remuneration for his services. His wife, by means of a small business, provided their meager subsistence.


In his youth he wrote "Eben Bochan", a commentary on several juridical themes of the Shulkhan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat (Krotoschin, 1842), and "Sefer Moznayim la-Mishpat", a commentary, in three parts on the whole Choshen Mishpat' (parts i. and ii., Krotoschin and Königsberg, 1855; part iii. still in manuscript). He also wrote: Tzvi L'Tzadik (צבי לצדיק) glosses on the Shulkhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah, published in the new Vilna edition of that work; the "Sefer ha-Berit" commentary on the Pentateuch; the "Sefer Yetzi'at Mitzrayim" commentary on the Passover Pesach Haggadah; "Chiddushim" on several Talmudical treatises; etc. He also contributed largely to Hebrew magazines, as "Ha-Maggid", "Tziyyon", "Ha-'Ibri", and "Ha-Lebanon".

Views on the re-settlement of the Land of Israel

Inclined to philosophical speculation, Kalischer studied the systems of medieval and modern Jewish and Christian philosophers, one result being his "Sefer Emunah Yesharah" an inquiry into Jewish philosophy and theology (2 vols., Krotoschin, 1843, 1871); an appendix to volume 1 contains a commentary (incomplete) on Job and Ecclesiastes. In the midst of his many activities, however, his thoughts centered on one idea: the settlement of the Land of Israel by Jews, in order to provide a home for the homeless Eastern European Jews and transform the many Jewish beggars in the Holy Land into a population able to support itself by agriculture. He proposed:
#To collect money for this purpose from Jews in all countries;
#To buy and cultivate land in Palestine;
#To found an agricultural school, either in Palestine itself or in France; and
#To form a Jewish military guard for the security of the colonies.

He thought the time especially favorable for the carrying out of this idea, as the sympathy of men like Isaac Moïse Crémieux, Moses Montefiore, Edmond James de Rothschild, and Albert Cohn rendered the Jews politically influential. To these and similar Zionist ideals he gave expression in his "Derishat Tziyyon" (Lyck, 1862), containing three theses:

#The salvation of the Jews, promised by the Prophets, can come about only in a natural way — by self-help;
#Colonization (a 19th century term for settlement) in Palestine;
#Admissibility of the observance of sacrifices in Palestine at the present day.

The appendix contains an invitation to the reader to become a member of the colonization societies of Palestine.

This book made a very great impression, especially in the Eastern Europe. It was translated into German by Poper (Thorn, 1865), and a second Hebrew edition was issued by N. Friedland (ib. 1866). Kalischer himself traveled with indefatigable zeal to various German cities for the purpose of establishing colonization societies. It was his influence that caused Chayyim Lurie, in Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1861, to form the first society of this kind, and this was followed by others.

Owing to Kalischer's agitation, the Alliance Israélite Universelle founded the Mikveh Israel agricultural school, the rabbinate of which was offered to him, but he was too old to accept it. Although all these endeavors were not attended with immediate success, Kalischer never lost hope. By exerting a strong influence upon his contemporaries, including such prominent men as Heinrich Grätz, Moses Hess (see "Rome and Jerusalem", pp. 117 et seq.), and others, he is considered to have been one of the most important of those who prepared the way for the foundation of modern Zionism.


*Bibliography: Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1874, p. 757;
*Jüdischer Volkskalender, pp. 143 et seq., Leipsic, 1899;
*Sefer Anshe Shem, pp. 31a et seq., Warsaw, 1892.S. M. Sc.

Article references

* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=56&letter=K Jewish Encyclopedia article on Tzebi Hirsch Kalischer]

External links


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