Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
November 2003

Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer, 1795-1874.

Professor Jody Meyers of California State University, Northridge spent over ten years preparing her recently published book, Seeking Zion : modernity and messianic activism in the writing of Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer (Portland, OR ; Oxford [England] : The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003.) Kalischer was one of the first Orthodox rabbis to advocate direct political action in order to radically transform Jewish life.

Kalischer's quest to hasten the arrival of the messianic age began in the summer of 1836 with a letter to the Frankfurt banker, Amschel Mayer Rothschild. The letter represents his initial thinking concerning the messiah and the land of Israel.

Kalischer lived in a time when Jewish tradition was increasingly challenged by rational thought and social integration. Applying his knowledge of rabbinic literature to the unusual historical events unfolding around him, he became convinced that behind the rise of individual Jews to great power was a divine plan to prepare the way for messianic redemption. Kalischer anticipated that in his own lifetime he would see the ingathering of the Jews, the renewed cultivation of the land of Israel, and the restoration of sacrificial worship. This would be achieved not through supernatural agency but by the efforts of the Jews themselves, in the spirit of the time. The Jewish people were obligated by God to 'seek Zion'.

In 1860 Dr. Hayyim Lorje announced the formation of Kolonisations-Verein fûr Palästina (Society for the Colonization of Palestine). Lorje, a descendent of the Rabbi Itzhak Luria (the ARI), saw the return to the land of Israel as a form of purification after the defilement of the Exile. Kalischer was one of the men of reputation that Lorje recruited. Kalischer sent Lorje the manuscript of Derishat Zion. Lorje arranged for the publication (1862) through the Kolonisations-Verein. This brought Kalischer to the spokesman position for the promoting Jewish agricultural settlements in Eretz Yisra'el. He wrote extensively for the Jewish press in Europe, to solicit support from rabbis and prominent Jews. He corresponded with anyone who questioned his ideas and projects.

Achieving his goals proved much harder. Lorje was a difficult man to get along with. He never collected enough money to meet the expenses of his organization and disbanded the Kolonisations-Verein in 1864 without establishing a single agricultural settlement. In was not until 1874 that Kalischer and his partners were able to purchase a small plot of land outside of Jerusalem. Kalischer announced the purchase in the newspapers and requested donations to cover the final payment, but he died two months later before the transaction was completed. (Kalischer's son, Judah, completed the transaction.)

Kalischer's messianic goals were reveled to select audiences. He believed in the power of sacrifices even though most of his contemporaries thought they were non-rational and out dated. His ideas of sacrifice estranged him from both the liberal and conservative Jewish leadership.

There is an interest in the work of Kalischer as evidenced by Jody Myers' book and the 2002 edition of Derishat Tsiyon, Kallischer was an innovator when he encouraged his people to "go forth." His correspondence with philanthropic Jews and political leaders helped to build a path to what he believed to be a holy path for Jews and humanity to eternal joy. However, I doubt any current Zionist group calls him one of their spiritual leaders.

Bibliography of some of the books by Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer, 1795-1874.

Derishat Tsiyonדרישת ציון / צבי הירש קאלישר ; מבוא והערות מאת ישראל קלויזנר.
Edition    Mahad.
2 metukenet.   מהד׳ 2 מתוקנת.
:  Mosad haRav Kuk,  724, c1964.  .

Derishat Tsiyon :  Shelom Yerushalayim ; Igeret ha-peniyah el Anshel Rothshild  דרישת ציון : שלום ירושלים ; איגרת הפניה אל אנשל רוטשילד / צבי הירש קלישר ; נספחים / [עריכה, והבאה לדפוס יהודה עציון]
Mahad meyuhedet
Yerushalayim, 762 [2002]

Emunah yesharah.  אמונה ישרה.  
Krotoszyn : Bi-defus Manash,1843-1870.
Vol. 2 published in Thorn. Vol. 3 published in Lyck, 1862.

ha-Ketavim ha-tsiyoniyim shel Tsevi Kalisher /  ...mavo, he’arot u-ve’urim me-et Yiśra’el Kloyzner.  הכתבים הציוניים של הרב צבי קאלישער
:  Mosad ha-Rav Kuk,  706 [1947] 

Moznayim le-mishpat u-mishnah aharonah ‘al hoshen ha-mishpat :  be’ur ‘al kol din ve-din ... /  [me-et] Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer.  מאזניים למשפט ומשנה אחרונה על חושן המשפט : ביאור על כל דין ודין ... / [מאת] צבי הירש קאלישר.
[Krotoszyn :  D.B. Monash,  1855] 

Seder Hagadah shel Pesahim perush Yetsi’at Mitsrayim /  me-et Tsevi Hirsh Kalisher ;  ... ba-arikhat Menasheh Gad Rashovs’i.   סדר הגדה של פסח עם פירוש ״יציאת מצרים״ / מאת צבי הירש קלישר.
Variant Title : Hagadah shel Pesah 'im Mitsrayim
Nahalim, 759 [1999].

Hamishah Humshe Torah im Targum Unkelus u-Ferush Rashi zal : ve-Toldot Aharon : ve-gam Targum Ashkenaz : u-shene perushim ... : Sefer ha-Berit ‚a. ha-T. ... : Be’ur ha-milot / me-et Tsevi Hirsh Kalisher ;  ve-gam hosafnu Seder ha-tefilot ve-Yotsrot le-khol Shabetot ha-shanah.  חמשה חומשי תורה : עם תרגום אונקלוס : ופירוש רש״י ז״ל : ותולדות אהרן : וגם תרגום אשכנז : ושני פירושים ... : ספר הברית עה״ת ... : באור המלות / מאת צבי הירש קאלישער ; וגם הוספנו סדר התפילות ויוצרות לכל שבתות השנה.
Warsha, [1872 or 1873-1875 or 1876]

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at:

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 ©2003 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised November 4, 2003