Monday, December 19, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Kislev 19, 5766 * December 20, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Lekutei Amarim
Title Page - Approbations

The title page written by the Alter Rebbe reads as follows]:

SEFER LIKUTEI AMARIM [Compilation of Teachings] PART ONE ENTITLED SEFER SHEL BEINONIM [The Book of the Intermediates]

Compiled from sacred books and from teachers of heavenly saintliness, whose souls are in Eden; based upon the verse, in [Devarim 30:14] "For this thing is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it"; explaining clearly how it is exceedingly near, in both a lengthy and a short way, with the aid of the Holy One, blessed be He.

[This verse on which the Tanya is based speaks of the obligation to fulfill G-d's commandments, saying that it is very "near", i.e., accessible, to every Jew to do so - through three channels, which are here alluded to by the three phrases, "your heart," "your mouth," and "to do it."

These phrases represent, respectively, the three faculties of thought, speech and action. These are, as it were, the functional organs of the soul; the soul vests itself in them in order to implement its wishes.

In a deeper sense, "your heart" refers to the emotions - experienced in the heart - of love of G-d and awe of Him.

When one fulfills a mitzvah out of his love of G-d, knowing that the only way to unite with Him is by fulfilling His commands, he will do so with an inner vitality and pleasure, just as one does when he fulfills the wishes of a dear friend. The love of G-d is thus a channel for the performance of the positive mitzvot. On the other hand, one's awe of G-d will prevent him from acting in violation of His wishes. He who is pervaded by this sense of awe will be most vigilant in avoiding any transgression of the prohibitive mitzvot.

The verse thus declares that acquiring these two emotions of love and awe of G-d, so that they motivate one's observance of the mitzvot, is likewise "very near to you."

This declaration is the basis of the Tanya. The Alter Rebbe now sets out to explain, in both a lengthy and a brief way, how it is very near.

By nature, man's heart desires material things. To develop a love and a desire for G-dliness is actually to shift one's natural desire from one extreme - worldliness, to another - G-dliness. Nor is awe of G-d easily attainable. As the Gemara attests, "Is awe of G-d such a small matter?!" How then does the verse state that it is, indeed, "very near to you"?

The Alter Rebbe will explain two ways by which the attainment of love and fear is very near: one "lengthy", and the other "brief."

The lengthy route is contemplation; by pondering deeply on the greatness of G-d and His kindness, one will generate within himself a love and awe of Him. The shorter route consists of arousing and bringing to the surface the hidden love and awe of G-d inherent in the soul of every Jew; it is "short" because in this case he does not create these feelings but merely reveals them.

This, then, is the basis of the Tanya.

In his modesty, the Alter Rebbe named the book Likutei Amarim - "A Compilation of Teachings," claiming that he did no more than collect teachings "from books and teachers." Chassidic tradition understands "books" as a reference to the works of the Maharal, and the Shelah, and "teachers" as the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch.

The book is popularly called Tanya, for the word with which it begins.]


[Concerning the approbations of the tzaddikim, Rabbi Yehudah Leib HaKohen (1) and Rabbi Zusya, (1) the previous Rebbe (2) cites a tradition originating with the Mitteler Rebbe, the son of the author of the Tanya, as follows:

For twenty years the Alter Rebbe wrote the Tanya, revising, adding and deleting, (3) critically examining every word and even (literally) every letter, so that in the final manuscript there was neither a missing nor a superfluous letter, not even the seemingly optional letter vav. Only then did he permit it to be copied and distributed to the public. As a result of the many copies and copyists, however, a great many errors found their way into the text. (It is recorded elsewhere that there were those who intentionally corrupted the text in order to ascribe to the Alter Rebbe heretical views, so that they could later attack him.) (4). At that point the Alter Rebbe sent messengers (5) to the aforementioned tzaddikkim, to confer with them on the printing of the Tanya and to request their approbations.

Both his colleagues expressed their enthusiasm over the book. R. Yehudah Leib HaKohen said: "The Tanya is an incense to counter all the spiritual plagues besetting the generations just before the arrival of Mashiach." R. Zusya predicted: "With the Tanya the Jewish people will go out to greet the righteous Mashiach."

Both indicated in their approbations that they were writing in the week of Parshat Ki Tavo ("when you enter the Land"). One of the emissaries, R. Moshe Vilenker, gave two reasons for this: Firstly, by studying the Tanya thoroughly one "enters the Land" in a spiritual sense, meaning that he makes the essential will of his soul manifest - for the word - Ratzon ("will") is related to Eretz ("land"). (6)

Secondly, the ways of serving G-d taught in the Tanya serve to transmute the curses enumerated in Parshat Ki Tavo into blessings.

Both tzaddikkim, R. Moshe Vilenker went on to explain, similarly indicated their esteem for the Tanya in the way they dated their approbations. R. Yehudah Leib HaKohen wrote "the year" Taf Kug Nun Vav (7) which is an acrostic for" Tanya Ketoret Neshama Veruach" - Tanya is the incense for the spirit and soul. In keeping with his comment quoted above; R. Zusya wrote the date as Shnat Pdusainu - " the year of our Redemption" - indicating, as above, that the Jewish people will greet Mashiach with the Tanya.]

Approbation by the famous rabbi and chassid A G-dly man of saintly renown Our teacher Rabbi Meshulam Zusil of Anipoli

I have seen the writings of this rabbi (8) and gaon; this G-dly man, saintly and pure; this luminous lens (9) [who brings every subject into sharp focus.]

He [with his own talents has done well,] and moreover G-d in his wonderful kindness has placed in his pure heart [additional strength] to do all this [i.e., to write the Tanya]), in order to show G-d's People His holy ways.

It was (the Alter Rebbe's) intention not to publish these writings, for it is not his custom. But because these pamphlets (10) have spread amongst all Israel in numerous copies by sundry copyists, and, as a result of the many and various transcriptions, the copyists' errors have multiplied exceedingly, he was compelled to bring these pamphlets to the printing press.

G-d has aroused the spirit of the (two) partners, the outstanding and distinguished scholar, R. Shalom Shachna, son of R. Noach, and the outstanding and distinguished scholar R. Mordechai, son of R. Shmuel HaLevi, (11) to bring these pamphlets to the printing house in Slavita.

I congratulate them on this good deed.

They were, however, apprehensive of the growing number of printing establishments which are wont to cause damage and ruin to the accredited ones.

In view of this we have resolved to give this approbation so that no man shall lift hand or foot (12) to cause any damage, G-d forbid, to the aforementioned printers by encroaching upon their exclusive right in any manner.

It is forbidden to any person to reprint this book without the knowledge of the said printers for a period of five full years from the date below.

May he who heeds these words of mine be blessed with good.

These are the words of one who demands this for the glory of the Torah, this day, Tuesday - the day on which the Creator twice saw that "it is good" (13) - of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year Pdusainu (556) of the (sixth) millenium.

The insignificant Meshulam Zusil of Anipoli

Approbation by the famous rabbi and chassid A G-dly man of saintly renown Our teacher Rabbi Yehudah Leib HaKohen (14)

The wisdom of the man illumines the face of the earth - when one sees the hand (writings) (15) of the author, the rabbi and gaon, this G-dly man, saintly and pure, pious and humble, whose hidden (powers) have been revealed long ago [i.e., despite his efforts to the contrary]), when he sat at the seat of wisdom (16) with our lord, master and teacher, the world gaon [i.e., the Maggid of Mezritch, who was a world authority in the revealed aspects of Torah, as well as the supreme authority in the realm of chassidic thought], and he drew water from the well of living waters - [some understand this as an allusion to R. Avraham "the angel," son of the Maggid, for the letters "Mib-air" meaning "from the well," also spell Avram.]

Now Israel [an allusion to the Baal Shem Tov, whose name was Israel] will rejoice in the revelation of his holy words - [for in Tanya, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov find lucid intellectual expression], which have been compiled in preparation for the press, to teach the nation of G-d the ways of holiness, as anyone can perceive in the inner meaning of [the author's] words.

That which is common knowledge needs no proof, [and thus the Tanya would actually need no approbation], but for the fear of damage, so that no harm be caused to the printers, I hereby sound a firm warning- that no man raise his hand or foot (12) to print [the Tanya] for a period of five years from the date below.

May he who heeds these words of mine be blessed with good.

These are the words of one who speaks thus for the glory of the Torah, This day, Tuesday, of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year 556 of the "sixth" millenium.

Yehudah Leib HaKohen

Approbation of the rabbis, long may they live Sons of the author of blessed memory Whose soul is in Eden

Whereas it has been agreed by us to grant permission and authorization to bring to the printing press, for a remembrance for the Children of Israel the (17) written works of uprightness and truth, (18) "words of the living G-d" [as chassidic discourses are called] by our lord our father, master and teacher, of blessed memory, recorded personally by his own holy hand in his own saintly expression, whose words are all like burning fiery coals which ignite people's hearts, to draw them near to our Father in heaven; -

These discourses are collectively entitled Iggeret HaKodesh ("the holy epistle"), being mostly epistles sent by his holy eminence to teach the people of G-d the way by which they should walk and the deed which they should do; -

[" The way..." probably refers to the chassidic paths of self- perfection, those letters offering guidance in attaining love and awe of G-d and in the proper service of G-d through prayer and Torah study; while "the deed..." refers to the inspirational letters dealing with charity and the like.]

Inasmuch as [our father] has made reference, in many places, (19) to his Sefer Likutei Amarim, and since (20) "the words of Torah are scanty in one place and ample in another," so that some subjects in Iggeret HaKodesh are more fully elucidated in Likutei Amarim, [and vice versa]; -

Especially also since the "Iggeret HaKodesh" introduces new material (pertaining to Likutei Amarim) in the form of a Kuntres Acharon ["Later Pamphlet"] on certain chapters, which he wrote when he composed the Sefer Likutei Amarim; -

[The Kuntres Acharon] consists of profound discussions and insights in passages of the Zohar and Etz Chayim which appear to contradict one another, and in his understanding spirit [the author] resolves each passage according to its context as explained in Likutei Amarim - [and thus this part of Iggeret HaKodesh is certainly directly connected to Likutei Amarim;] -

Accordingly, we have deemed it proper to join [the discourses in Iggeret HaKodesh] to the Sefer Likutei Amarim and Iggeret HaTeshuvah of his saintly eminence our lord father, master and teacher [i.e., to print them together].

Therefore we hereby place a great fence [i.e., prohibition] and the "Nun Chet Shin" (21) (i.e., excommunication) of the Rabbis for which there is no remedy, that no man lift his hand (12) to print [these discourses] in their present form together with the Likutei Amarim, or one without the other, for a period of five years from the date below. (22)

This, however, must be made known:

To our misfortune (23) the manuscripts written by his personal saintly hand which were composed with great precision without a superfluous or deficient letter, have become extinct.

All that has remained from the abundance of material is this small number of writings, which have been collected one by one from the copies spread amongst the disciples.

Should, therefore, an error be discovered - for "who can avoid errors" (24) the obvious error will be identified as deriving from a scribal slip, but the meaning will be clear.

Declared by Dov Ber, the son of my lord father, teacher and master, gaon and chassid, saint of Israel, our teacher and master Shneur Zalman, of blessed memory, whose soul rests in the hidden treasurehouses of heaven.

Declared also by Chayim Avraham, the son of my lord father, teacher and master, gaon and chassid, our teacher and master Shneur Zalman; may the memory of the tzaddik be blessed, whose soul rests in the hidden treasurehouses of heaven.

Declared also by Moshe, the son of my lord father, teacher and master, gaon and chassid, Shneur Zalman, of blessed memory, whose soul rests in the hidden treasurehouses of heaven. (25)


1. The Alter Rebbe's colleague, and a disciple of the Maggid of
2. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch. See Iggerot
Kodesh - Admur HaRayatz (KPS, Brooklyn, N.Y., 5742/1982), Vol. IV,
pp. 264-267.
3. Examine well the first redaction of Likutei Amarim (reproduced by
KPS, Brooklyn, N.Y. 5742/1982), and notes there. It is reasonable
to assume that there were also many emendations in the text before
the manuscript was released to the public to be copied. [Comment by
the Rebbe.]
4. This adds insight to the Alter Rebbe's reference - at the end of
his Compiler's Foreword - to "sundry and diverse" copyists (who
caused errors to creep into the text), and likewise his statement
that the printed Tanya would be "cleared of dross and errors"
[Comment by the Rebbe.]
5. As recorded in Iggerot Kodesh, loc. cit., the messengers were three
renowned chassidim - R. Moshe Vilenker, R. Pinchas of Shklov and R.
Yitzchak Moshe of Yass (Jassy).
6. See Bereishit Rabbah 5:7: "Why is it called Eretz - land? Sheratzta
laasot retzon kona - Because it desired to do the Will of its
7. I.e., the year 556 (corresponding to 1796); if written in full
(Heh Taf Kuf Nun Vav) it would appear as 5556.

8. Note that the author's name appeared in neither the title page nor
the approbations in the first seven editions. Only beginning with
the eighth edition (Shklov, 5574/1814) was the author's name
included, posthumously, when also the approbation by the Alter
Rebbe's sons first appeared.
9. See Yevamot 49b on the superiority of Moshe Rabbeinu: "All the
prophets gazed [at Divinity] through a non-luminous (or
reflective') lens; Moshe Rabbeinu gazed through a luminous (or
clear) lens." Rambam defines this superiority in his Yad, Yesodei
HaTorah, ch. 6; Moreh Nevuchim II, ch. 35; and his commentary on
the Mishnah, introduction to the chapter known as Chelek, in
Tractate Sanhedrin, Principle 7. [Comment by the Rebbe.]
10. The Tanya was first distributed in the form of kuntreisim
("pamphlets"). See Tanya, KPS edition (Brooklyn, NY 1958), p. 407.
11. The first is the Alter Rebbe's son-in-law and father of Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, third leader of Chabad; the second
is R. Mordechai Gorowitz, the printer of Shklov.
12. From Bereishit 41:44; i.e., "shall take any liberties."
13. Bereishit 1:10, 12.
14. Author of Or HaGanuz. Perhaps this approbation explains the most
unusual phenomenon of the Tzemach Tzedek's granting an approbation
to the above work. [Comment by the Rebbe.]
15. The original reads, "the hands of" perhaps a copyist's error.
[Comment by the Rebbe.]
16. From II Shmuel 23:8.
17. Paraphrase of Kohelet 12:10.
18. Siddur, from the passage preceding Keriat Shema.
19. In sections 3, 5, 6, 17, 18, 20, (25?), 29, and in Kuntres
Acharon, sec. beg. "And charity like a mighty stream..."
20. Paraphrase of Talmud Yerushalmi, Rosh HaShanah 3:5, which is
quoted in Tosafot on Keritot 14a, s.v. Ela.
21. Niduy, Cherem, Shamta - three forms of excommunication, which also
form in acrostic the word Nachash - snake -, hence the expression
"which (i.e., `for whose bite') there is no remedy" (cf. Tractate
Shabbat 110a).
22. The Shklov 5574 edition bears the date "Thursday, the 22nd of
Iyar, 5574," subsequently omitted.<
23. Literally, "on account of our many sins."
24. Tehillim 19:13.
25. "To date, I have found no explanation for the variations in the
titles with which each of the Alter Rebbe's sons describes his
father in his signature, and why each in succession omits two
words from the signature of the one before him (as the text
appears in all editions beginning with that of 5660 (1900).
[Comment by the Rebbe.]
It has been suggested that at the time of signing the
approbation, the first signatory, as the Alter Rebbe's successor,
was himself a Rebbe, a "saint in Israel;" he therefore emphasizes
the Alter Rebbe's greatness in being a "saint in Israel." The
second signatory was at the time, a rav and a halachic authority,
and he therefore places the emphasis on the Alter Rebbe's
greatness as "our master and teacher." The third signatory was
then a gaon and a chassid, (as is known from the traditions
handed on by the leaders of Chabad), and he therefore emphasizes
the Alter Rebbe's greatness as a gaon and chassid.
In the same vein we could also understand the distinctive phrase,
"the memory of the tzaddik be blessed," in the second signature -
based on the tradition that the second signatory wasoutstanding
in his righteousness and humility.


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