Zionism is a Jewish national movement which began in the second half of the nineteenth century. Its goal was to establish a Jewish democratic state in the Land of Israel. There were a number of different streams and philosophies within the movement. Zionism as a national movement began with the taking of actual steps to return to Zion. Before then, there had been yearnings, prayers, tears and the Aliyah of individuals who dreamed of a return to Zion. The Zionist movement was different in that, for the first time, there was a taking of responsibility for the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. This Zionist awakening was part of nationalist movements which were sweeping through Europe.
The Forerunners of Zionism and “The Return to Zion” Movement
The Hibat Zion (Lovers of Zion) movement was preceded by The Forerunners of Zionism who influenced the formation of the Zionist movement.
In the nineteenth century, three people, whom today we call the forerunners of Zionism, were active. They were Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, Rabbi Zvi Hersh Kalisher and Moshe Hess. All these people shared the belief that the redemption of the Land of Israel would be achieved not through miracles, but through natural means. Therefore, they took practical steps to return the Jews to their land.
The first organized attempt to settle the Land of Israel was led by the Return to Zion movement, which was founded by Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher, who was the moving force behind the movement. Rabbi Elijahu Guttmacher and Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai helped him on both the philosophical and practical level.
Rabbi Zvi Hersh Kalisher
He was born into a family of rabbis. He served as the rabbi of Thorn, in what was then Prussia. Rabbi Kalisher believed that the Emancipation movement and the involvement of Jews in international politics and banking was a sign that the Jews could establish a state of their own. He believed that the redemption of Israel would not happen at once as the result of divine intervention, but would come about in several stages, which would be dependent on the first stages. They would involve the support of other nations as well as the Jews’ active involvement in redeeming the Land of Israel.
Rabbi Kalisher believed that the agricultural and economic development of the Land of Israel would enable large numbers of people to make Aliyah. In addition, he attached great importance to the observance of sacrifice on the Temple Mount as part of the redemption.He did not believe there was any religious basis to prevent such sacrifices. Nevertheless, when he understood that there was much opposition to his view of sacrifices, he abandoned the idea and focused on the importance of the command to settle the Land of Israel. He expressed his ideas of settling the Land of Israel in his book, Derishat Zion, 1862.
אז מה עוד צריך לדעת על מבשרי הציונות?
תנועת “חיבת ציון”