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The Printing Of Tanya




The Printing Of Tanya

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As part of the dissemination of Chassidus, editions of Tanya should be printed in every place which has a Jewish population. This will lend extra enthusiasm to the study of Tanya by all Jews, the preparation to the Messianic era.
The Baal Shem Tov, in a famous letter[1] to his brother-in-law, tells of the time he experienced an elevation of the soul to the celestial spheres. When he came to The abode of Mashiach, he asked, "When will the Master come?" Mashiach answered: "When your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside."

The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of Chassidus and the Chassidic movement. Mashiach’s answer meant that the world would be ready for his coming when the wellsprings of Chassidus would reach all Jews. Ever since, the dissemination of Chassidic doctrines and teachings has assumed top priority.

Chabad Chassidus

Chabad Chassidus, founded by the Alter Rebbe, conveys the concepts of Chassidus in an intellectual framework, enabling them to be understood by man’s chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding) and daas (knowledge) -- ChaBaD. The doctrines of Chassidus were made comprehensible to all Jews, thereby infusing life and vitality in every aspect of a person and his service to G-d.[2]

The fundamental text of Chabad Chassidus,[3] its "Written Law,"[4] is the Tanya, authored by the Alter Rebbe. In the title page the Alter Rebbe sums up the thrust of Chabad Chassidus. He writes that his book is "based on the verse,[5] ‘For the thing is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it’ to explain well how it is very close to you..."

"The thing" in this verse refers to "this mitzvah" mentioned previously[6] -- mitzvos in general, the common theme of which is the bond they effect between G-d and Jew. Chabad Chassidus teaches how near a Jew is to this -- in thought ("in your heart"), speech ("in your mouth") and deed ("that you may do it"). Some mitzvos are performed with deed, some with speech (e.g., prayer), and others with thought (e.g., love of G-d).

Thought, Speech and Deed -- Together

We can go further: "The thing," which refers to "this mitzvah," is singular tense, implying that thought, speech and deed are present in each mitzvah, not just in mitzvos in general. In mitzvos which[7] are performed with deed, for example, a person must also think about the meaning of the mitzvah, and utter a blessing over its performance.

In most mitzvos, however, only one of these three are obligatory, while the other two only complement and better its fulfillment. In mitzvos which are fulfilled with deed, for example, a person has fulfilled his obligation even if he did not think about its meaning. Thus the three components of thought, speech and deed are separate functions of the mitzvah.7

There are three mitzvos in which thought, speech and deed are an integral part of the mitzvah, inextricably bound together. In the mitzvos of tzitzis, tefillin and sukkah, writes the Bach,[8] "the principal part of the mitzvah and its fulfillment depends on its meaning, that he must think about its meaning when he performs the mitzvah.[9] Whereas concerning other mitzvos, one has fulfilled one’s obligation although one did not think about its meaning." Therefore, "one has not properly fulfilled the mitzvah if one does not think about its meaning."[10] Likewise, as part of the mitzvah, one must utter the blessing when performing these three mitzvos.

Tefillin and Chabad Chassidus

Of these three, tefillin[11] most illustrates the idea of "the thing is very near to you in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it." The mitzvah of sukkah is only once a year, during the seven days of Sukkos. Tzitzis, although perfect every day of the year, is not a mitzvah devolving Jon the person, but on the garment.[12] In other words, if one wears a four-cornered garment, he must put tzitzis on it; but if one does not own such a garment, one is not obligated to obtain it so that he can fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis.

Tefillin, on the other hand, is a mitzvah which devolves on the person -- a Jew must put on tefillin -- and it is obligatory every weekday.[13] Tefillin is thus the example par excellence of how "the thing" is "in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it." And this is its unique connection to Chabad Chassidus, which explains how "the thing is very near to you in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it."

Chassidus must reach all Jews

Chassidus and Chabad Chassidus in particular, we have said, lays heavy emphasis on the dissemination of its doctrines to all Jews. This began in earnest after the liberation of the Alter Rebbe from Czarist imprisonment. He was arrested because of slanderous accusations brought by opponents to the Chassidic movement,[14] and his vindication was the signal for increased vigor in spreading Chassidus.[15]

In describing his release, the Alter Rebbe writes:[16] "G-d did wonders in the earth," and "all the peoples of the earth" saw the liberation by G-d. G-d’s wonders did not remain unrecognized, but affected this corporeal world, to the extent that even non-Jews were cognizant of them.[17] The redemption mirrored the dissemination of Chassidus, the idea of which is that its doctrines should not remain the privilege of a select few, but should affect the world, be spread "to the outside," to all Jews on whichever spiritual level they may be.[18]

Printing of Tanya

Part of the propagation of Chassidus is to ensure that Jews have the wherewithal to study its teachings. In particular, this means that Jews should have Tanyas in which to learn the "Written Law" of Chabad Chassidus.

It is therefore a most worthwhile project to print Tanyas in every place that has a Jewish population. When a Jew sees that it is an edition that has been printed in his city, in his town, he will be more enthusiastic about studying it.[19]

In addition to ensuring that Jews learn Tanya in those places where it has been printed, a substantial number of copies of those editions should be left in those places, with the Rabbi, the communal leaders, etc. This will inspire and encourage them to learn Tanya themselves, and to study it with others. And because "one mitzvah brings about another,"[20] those who study Tanya will come to follow its directives.

When the Tanya is printed in a particular place but bound in another, the unbound editions should be learned immediately where they were printed. Such was the way Tanya was originally studied. The Alter Rebbe writes in the introduction to Tanya that it was originally studied in pamphlet form, and only afterwards were those pamphlets printed and bound together.[21]

If, for some reason, Tanya was not studied in a place where it was printed, at least one of those who were involved in its printing should return to that place and learn from that edition together with the residents of that place. And, as noted above, a substantial number of copies of that edition should be left there.

May it be G-d’s will that very soon we will merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when we, "with our youth and our elders, with our sons and our daughters,"[22] will go together to our holy land.

Shabbos Parshas Bo, 5744



  1. (Back to text) Published in Ginzei Nistoros Or Yisrael; Introduction to Likkutei Amarim of the Mezritcher Maggid.

  2. (Back to text) See Likkutei Dibburim, 1, 282

  3. (Back to text) See Toras Shalom, p. 114.

  4. (Back to text) Letters by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, IV, 261.

  5. (Back to text) Devarim 30:14.

  6. (Back to text) ibid., 30:11.

  7. (Back to text) Or HaTorah, Parshas Yisro, p. 937.

  8. (Back to text) Orach Chayim 8.

  9. (Back to text) These mitzvos are special, explains the Bach (Orach Chayim 8), because Torah explicitly writes in their case that the fulfillment of the mitzvah is associated with its meaning. Regarding tzitzis, the Torah says, "They shall make for themselves tzitzis... so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments..." Concerning tefillin Torah states: "It shall be a sign... so that the Torah of the L-rd may always be in your mouth." And of the mitzvah of Sukkah it says, "You shall dwell in Sukkos... so that your generations shall know..."

  10. (Back to text) Bach, Orach Chayim 625.

  11. (Back to text) The first two Parshas of tefillin are found in the seventh section of Parshas Bo -- which is the daily Torah portion of when this sicha was delivered by the Rebbe Shlita (on Shabbos Parshas Bo).

  12. (Back to text) Menachos 41a; Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 19, 24:1.

  13. (Back to text) Although tefillin is not donned on Shabbos or Yom Tov, its idea is still present, for tefillin is a "sign" and Shabbos and Yom Tov are "signs." (Menachos 36b; Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 31:1).

  14. (Back to text) This too is connected to the time when this sicha was delivered, The daily portion of Tehillim recited on Shabbos Parshas Bo begins with David’s Song to G-d, in’ which it states (18:1): "On the day that G-d delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Shaul." Just as David’s worst persecutor was Shaul, so too the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment occurred mainly because of the slanders brought by a Jew.

  15. (Back to text) Toras Shalom, p. 112.

  16. (Back to text) Letters by the Alter Rebbe, p. 97.

  17. (Back to text) This again is reflected in the portion of Tehillim recited on Shabbos Parshas Bo. Its conclusion states (22:29,31,32): "For kingship is the L-rd’s and He rules over the nations ... The L-rd will be proclaimed to the generation by the seed who serve Him. They will come and tell of His righteousness, that which He has done, to the newborn nation." just as that which "the L-rd has done" -- actual deed -- will be told to everyone, so too in the Alter Rebbe’s liberation, even non-Jews saw G-d’s wonders "in the earth" -- actual deed.

  18. (Back to text) As mentioned previously, the dissemination of Chassidus is the preparation to the coming of Mashiach. This too is alluded to in the aforementioned portion of Tehillim, in which it is stated (18:51): "He gives great deliverance to His king, and bestows kindness upon His anointed."

    A further connection to Shabbos Parshas Bo, when this sicha was delivered, is that the propagation of Chassidus was greatly intensified and broadened by the previous Rebbe, and 1) the previous Rebbe passed away on Shabbos Parshas Bo; 2) he passed away on the tenth of Shevat, and since Shabbos blesses the days of the coming week (Zohar, II, 63b, 88a), the tenth of Shevat is this year blessed on Shabbos Parshas Bo.

  19. (Back to text) As to what part of Tanya its study should begin with, is left to each person’s liking. If there are a number of people learning together, the decision should follow the majority.

  20. (Back to text) Pirkei Avos 4:2.

  21. (Back to text) At the conclusion to his introduction, the Alter Rebbe writes: "I come to invoke a strict prohibition on all publishers against printing the said pamphlets, either themselves or through their agency, without the authority of the above-named [the original publishers]."

    This is a clear directive from the author of the Tanya. No one may therefore print the Tanya without the permission of "Kehos" for "a period of five years from the day that this printing is completed" i.e., from the last printing by "Kehos." And in the concluding words of the Alter Rebbe, "It will be well with those who conform, and they will be blessed with good."

  22. (Back to text) Shemos 10:9.

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