Abraham HaKohen of Kalisk

Rabbi Abraham HaKohen of Kalisk (1741–1810) was a prominent Chassidic rabbi of the 3rd generation of Chassidic leaders. He was a disciple of Dov Ber of Mezeritch

Born: Kolyshki, Belarus 1741
Died: Tiberias, Israel, 1810


Avraham was born in 1741 in Kalyshki (today in Belarus, east of Vitebsk) to  Rabbi Alexander. In his youth, Abraham Kalisker studied Torah with the Vilna Gaon, who later became the leader of the mitnagdim - i.e. those who opposed Hasidic Judaism.

In his youth he became famous as a Iluy (עילוי). He became close to Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezrich, and became his ardent devotee. Around him were many devotees who clung to his way, which was characterized by great enthusiasm and supreme devotion. The devotional behavior of his followers provoked puzzlement and fierce opposition from those around them, Gentiles and Jews. Later, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Ladi claimed that the wild behavior of his followers was among the causes of boycotts imposed on Hasidim in Lithuania

Kalisker and his followers took an emotional and mystical approach towards the service of God in contrast to the formalism of traditional religious scholars, who focused on Talmudic study. After the death in 1772 of his teacher, Dov Ber Mezeritch, most of the opposition to hassidism was directed against Kalisker and his disciples.

In 1777, at about age 36, he joined the first hassidic aliyah under the leadership of Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and emigrated to the Holy Land. He died in Tiberias on 9 January 1810.

His writings and letters

A pamphlet authoring grace to Abraham was printed at the end of the book 'Grace to Abraham' to Rabbi Abraham the Angel and other editions. Single and grouped pamphlet have been printed in many places.

May the merit of the tzadik Rabbi Abraham HaKohen of Kalisk  protect us all. Amen

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