Biography of Rabbi Zvi (Tsvi) Hirsch Kalischer
Kalischer's ideas concerning Jewish self defense and agricultural settlement foreshadowed those of modern Zionism. He traveled through Germany soliciting the aid of wealthy and influential Jews in Jewish settlement projects.
Rabbi Kalischer, like Rabbi Alkalai, saw an intrinsic
connection between the national aspirations of the Jewish people and the traditional messianic belief. He was greatly
influenced by the emancipation of the Jews in France, Germany and Austria by Napoleon. These sometimes short-lived
emancipation decrees were seen by Rabbi Kalischer as part of the development of the Jewish people. However, he
also saw in them 'hevei Mashiach - preparation for the coming of the Messiah. . Therefore, he viewed the developments of
rising nationalism among the Jewish people as one of the first stages in the process of natural redemption, i.e., that
process by which man himself would help bring about the beginning of redemption in which at least some Jews would return
to Eretz Israel.
Kalischer inspired the founding of several settlement societies, and in 1864 he was responsible for the establishment of the Central Committee for Settlement of the land of Israel in Berlin. Kalischer first interested the Alliance Israelite Universelle in aiding agriculture in Erez Israel, an interest which led to the opening of the Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School in 1870. In reply to the argument from various quarters in Palestine and Europe that conditions were inadequate for the establishment of agricultural settlements, he proposed that the settlers organize guard units whose members would combine farm work with defense against attack. Tirat Tzevi, a religious kibbutz in the Bet She'an Valley, is named for him.
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