by Daniel D. Stuhlman
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
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 Tsiyon דרישת
ציון / צבי
Edition Mahad. 2 metukenet. מהד׳ 2 מתוקנת.
Yerushalayim : Mosad haRav Kuk, 724, c1964. .
: Shelom Yerushalayim ; Igeret ha-peniyah el Anshel Rothshild … דרישת
ציון : שלום
אל אנשל רוטשילד
/ צבי הירש
[עריכה, והבאה לדפוס
Yerushalayim, 762 
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
Yerushalayim : Mosad ha-Rav Kuk, 706 
Moznayim le-mishpat u-mishnah aharonah ‘al hoshen ha-mishpat : be’ur ‘al kol din ve-din ... / [me-et] Tsevi
חושן המשפט : ביאור
על כל דין
ודין ... / [מאת]
[Krotoszyn : D.B. Monash, 1855]
Seder Hagadah shel Pesah ‚im perush Yetsi’at Mitsrayim / me-et Tsevi Hirsh Kalisher ; ... ba-arikhat Menasheh
Gad Rashovs’i. סדר
הגדה של פסח
מצרים״ / מאת צבי
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
Variant Title : Hagadah shel Pesah 'im Mitsrayim
Nahalim, 759 .
Warsha, [1872 or 1873-1875 or 1876]
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
©2003 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
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