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Avraham was born in 1741 in Kalyshki, Belarus to 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.
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.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Kalisker, Abraham Ben Alexander Ha-Kohen". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.