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Tanya
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Approbations

Concerning the approbations of the tzaddikim, Rabbi Yehudah Leib HaKohen1 and Rabbi Zusya,2 the previous Rebbe3 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,4 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.)5 At that point the Alter Rebbe sent messengers6 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 רצון (“will”) is related to ארץ (“land”).7 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 תקנ״ו,”‎8 which is an acrostic for תניא קטורת נשמה ורוח“Tanya is the incense for the spirit and soul” — in keeping with his comment quoted above; R. Zusya wrote the date as שנת פדותינו — “the year of our Redemption” — indicating, as above, that the Jewish people will greet Mashiach with the Tanya.

הסכמת הרב החסיד המפורסם
איש אלקי, קדוש יאמר לו
מורנו הרב רבי משולם זוסיל מאניפאלי

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

הנה בראותי את הכתבים של הרב האי גאון איש אלקים קדוש וטהור, אספקלריא המאירה

I have seen the writings of this rabbi9 and gaon; this G‑dly man, saintly and pure; this luminous lens10 who brings every subject into sharp focus.

וטוב אשר עשה, ואשר הפליא ה׳ חסדו ונתן בלבו הטהור לעשות את כל אלה

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),

להראות עם ה׳ דרכיו הקדושים

in order to show G‑d’s People His holy ways.

ורצונו היה שלא להעלות את הכתבים ההם לבית הדפוס מחמת שאין דרכו בכך

It was [the Alter Rebbe’s] intention not to publish these writings, for it is not his custom.

רק מחמת התפשטות הקונטרסים ההם בקרב כל ישראל בהעתקות רבות מידי סופרים משונים

But because these pamphlets11 have spread amongst all Israel in numerous copies by sundry copyists,

ומחמת ריבוי העתקות שונות רבו הטעותי סופרים במאד

and, as a result of the many and various transcriptions, the copyists‘ errors have multiplied exceedingly,

והוכרח להביא הקונטרסים ההם לבית הדפוס

he was compelled to bring these pamphlets to the printing press.

והעיר ה׳ את רוח השותפים, ה״ה הרבני המופלג הותיק מורנו הרב רבי שלום שכנא בן מורנו הרב רבי נח, וה״ה הרבני המופלג הותיק מורנו הרב רבי מרדכי בן מורנו הרב רבי שמואל הלוי

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,12

להביא הקונטרסים ההם לבית הדפוס בסלאוויטא

to bring these pamphlets to the printing house in Slavita.

ולפעלא טבא אמרתי יישר חילא

I congratulate them on this good deed.

אך עלו בלבם מגור מסביב מן הדפוסים אשר רבו, שדרכן להזיק ולקלקל המאושרים

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

אי לזאת גמרנו בלבנו ליתן הסכמה לבל ירים איש את ידו ואת רגלו

In view of this we have resolved to give this approbation so that no man shall lift hand or foot13

לגרום להמדפיסים הנ״ל שום היזק חס ושלום בהשגת גבול בשום אופן

to cause any damage, G‑d forbid, to the aforementioned printers by encroaching upon their exclusive right in any manner.

ואסור לשום אדם לדפוס הספר הנ״ל בלתי ידיעת המדפיסים הנ״ל עד משך חמש שנים רצופים מיום דלמטה

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.

ושומע לדברי אלה יבא עליו ברכת טוב

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

הלא כה דברי הדורש זאת לכבוד התורה

These are the words of one who demands this for the glory of the Torah,

היום יום ג׳ שנכפל בו כי טוב פרשת תבא, שנת פדותינו לפ״ק

this day, Tuesday — the day on which the Creator twice saw that “it is good”14 — of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year פדותינ״ו (556)15 of the [sixth] millenium.

הקטן משולם זוסיל מאניפאלי

The insignificant Meshulam Zusil of Anipoli

——— ● ———

הסכמת הרב החסיד המפורסם
איש אלקי, קדוש יאמר לו
מורנו הרב רבי יהודא ליב הכהן

Approbation by the famous rabbi and chassid
A G‑dly man of saintly renown
Our teacher Rabbi Yehudah Leib HaKohen16

חכמת אדם תאיר פני הארץ

The wisdom of the man illumines the face of the earth—

בראותי ידי קדש המחבר הרב הגאון איש אלקים קדוש וטהור חסיד ועניו

when one sees the hand[writing]s17 of the author, the rabbi and gaon, this G‑dly man, saintly and pure, pious and humble,

אשר מכבר נגלה מסתריו

whose hidden [powers] have been revealed long ago (i.e., despite his efforts to the contrary),

יושב בשבת תחכמוני אצל אדונינו מורינו ורבינו גאון עולם

when he sat at the seat of wisdom18 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),

ודלה מים מבאר מים חיים

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 מבאר , meaning “from the well,” also spell אברם).

וכעת ישמח ישראל בהגלות דברי קדשו

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,

המחובר להביא לבית הדפוס ללמד לעם ה׳ דרכי קדש

which have been compiled in preparation for the press, to teach the nation of G‑d the ways of holiness,

כאשר כל אחד יחזה בפנימיות דבריו

as anyone can perceive in the inner meaning of [the author’s] words.

והמפורסם אין צריך ראיה

That which is common knowledge needs no proof, and thus the Tanya would actually need no approbation,

רק מחשש קלקול הדבר, שלא יגרום היזק למדפיסים

but for the fear of damage, so that no harm be caused to the printers,

באתי ליתן תוקף ואזהרה לבל ירים איש את ידו ורגלו לדפוס

I hereby sound a firm warning — that no man raise his hand or foot19 to print [the Tanya]

עד משך חמש שנים מיום דלמטה

for a period of five years from the date below.

ושומע לדברי אלה יבוא עליו ברכת טוב

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

הלא כה דברי המדבר זאת לכבוד התורה

These are the words of one who speaks thus for the glory of the Torah,

היום יום ג׳ פרשה תבא תקנ"ו לפרט קטן

This day, Tuesday, of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year 556 of the [sixth] millenium.

יהודא ליב הכהן

Yehudah Leib HaKohen

——— ● ———

הסכמת הרבנים שיחיו
בני הגאון המחבר זכרונו לברכה
נשמתו עדן

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

היות שהוסכם אצלינו ליתן רשות והרמנא להעלות על מכבש הדפוס

Whereas it has been agreed by us to grant permission and authorization to bring to the printing press,

לזכרון לבני ישראל

for a remembrance for the Children of Israel

כתוב דברי יושר ואמת, דברי אלקים חיים של אדוננו אבינו מורנו ורבנו, ז״ל

the20 written works of uprightness and truth,21 “words of the living G‑d” (as chassidic discourses are called) by our lord our father, master and teacher, of blessed memory,

כתובים בכתב ידו הקדושה בעצמו ולשונו הקדוש

recorded personally by his own holy hand in his own saintly expression,

שכל דבריו כגחלי אש בוערות ילהיבו הלבבות לקרבן לאביהן שבשמים

whose words are all like burning fiery coals which ignite people’s hearts, to draw them near to our Father in heaven; —

ובשם אגרת הקדש נקראו, שרובם היו אגרת שלוח מאת כבוד קדושתו להורות לעם ה׳ הדרך ילכו בה והמעשה אשר יעשון

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.

ומחמת שבכמה מקומות הציב לו ציונים בספר לקוטי אמרים שלו, ודברי תורה עניים במקום אחד ועשירים במקום אחר

Inasmuch as [our father] has made reference, in many places,22 to his Sefer Likutei Amarim, and since23 “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; —

—ומה גם בשביל דבר שנתחדש בו קונטרס אחרון על איזה פרקים אשר כתב בעת חיברו הספר לקוטי אמרים

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; —

פלפול ועיון עמוק על מאמרי זהר ועץ חיים ופרי עץ חיים שנראים כסותרים זה את זה

[The Kuntres Acharon] consists of profound discussions and insights in passages of the Zohar and Etz Chayim which appear to contradict one another,

וברוח מבינתו מישבם כל דיבור על אופניו שכתב בלקוטי אמרים

and in his understanding spirit [the author] resolves each passage according to its context as explained in Likutei Amarimand thus this part of Iggeret HaKodesh is certainly directly connected to Likutei Amarim; 24

ראו ראינו שראוי ונכון לחברם עם ספר לקוטי אמרים ואגרת התשובה של כבוד קדושת אדוננו אבינו מורנו ורבנו זכרונו לברכה

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).

אי לזאת באנו להטיל גודא רבה וגזרת נח״ש דרבנן דלית לה אסוותא

Therefore we hereby place a great fence (i.e., prohibition) and the נח״ש25 (i.e., excommunication) of the Rabbis for which there is no remedy,

שלא ירים איש את ידו להדפיס כתבניתם או זה בלא זה

that no man lift his hand26 to print [these discourses] in their present form together with the Likutei Amarim, or one without the other,

משך חמשה שנים מיום דלמטה

for a period of five years from the date below.27

ברם כגון דא צריך לאודועי

This, however, must be made known:

שבעוונותינו הרבים ספו תמו כתבי ידו הקדושה בעצמו, אשר היו בדקדוק גדול לא חסר ולא יתיר אות אחת

To our misfortune28 the manuscripts written by his personal saintly hand which were composed with great precision without a superfluous or deficient letter, have become extinct.

ולא נשאר כי אם זה המעט מהרבה אשר נלקטו אחד לאחד מהעתקות המפוזרים אצל התלמידים

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.

ואם המצא תמצא איזה טעות שגיאות מי יבין , ימצא הטעות דמוכח מטעות סופר והכוונה תהיה ברורה

Should, therefore, an error be discovered — for “who can avoid errors”29 — the obvious error will be identified as deriving from a scribal slip, but the meaning will be clear.

נאום דוב בער בן אדוני אבי מורי ורבי הגאון החסיד קדוש ישראל, מרנא ורבנא שניאור זלמן, זכרונו לברכה, נשמתו בגנזי מרומים

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.

ונאום חיים אברהם בן אדוני אבי מורי ורבי הגאון החסיד מרנא ורבנא שניאור זלמן, זכר צדיק לברכה, נשמתו בגנזי מרומים

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.

ונאום משה בן אדוני אבי מורי ורבי הגאון החסיד שניאור זלמן זכרונו לברכה, נשמתו בגנזי מרומים

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.30

——— ● ———

FOOTNOTES
1. The Alter Rebbe’s colleague, and a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch.
2. The Alter Rebbe’s colleague, and a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch.
3. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch. See Iggerot Kodesh — Admur HaRayatz (KPS, Brooklyn, N.Y., 5742/1982), Vol. IV, pp. 264-267.
4. 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)
5. 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)
6. 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).
7. See Bereishit Rabbah 5:7: “Why is it calledd ארץ (land)? שרצתה לעשות רצון קונה — Because it desired to do the Will of its Creator.”
8. I.e., the year 556 (corresponding to 1796); if written in full (ה׳תקנ״ו) it would appear as 5556.
9. 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.
10. 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)
11. The Tanya was first distributed in the form of kuntreisim (“pamphlets”). See Tanya, KPS edition (Brooklyn, N.Y. 1958), p. 407.
12. 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.
13. From Bereishit 41:44; i.e., “shall take any liberties.”
14. Bereishit 1:10, 12.
15. I.e., 1796
16. 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)
17. The original reads, “the hands of” — perhaps a copyist’s error. (— Comment by the Rebbe)
18. From II Shmuel 23:8.
19. From Bereishit 41:44; i.e., “shall take any liberties.”
20. Paraphrase of Kohelet 12:10.
21. Siddur, from the passage preceding Keriat Shema.
22. In sections 3, 5, 6, 17, 18, 20, (25?), 29, and in” Kuntres Acharon, sec. beg. “And charity like a mighty stream...”
23. Paraphrase of Talmud Yerushalmi, Rosh HaShanah 3:5, which is quoted in Tosafot on Keritot 14a, s.v. אלא.
24. Howerver, see the passage that introduces Kuntres Acharon, Essay One, in Vol. V of this series, p. 259.
25. נדוי, חרם, שמתא — three forms of excommunication, which also form in acrostic the word נח״ש — “snake”, hence the expression “for which (i.e. ‘for whose bite’) there is no remedy” (cf. Tractate Shabbat 110a).
26. From Bereishit 41:44; i.e., “shall take any liberties.”
27. The Shklov 5574 edition bears the date “Thursday, the 22nd of Iyar, 5574,” subsequently omitted.
28. Literally, “on account of our many sins.”
29. Tehillim 19:13.
30.

“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 was outstanding in his righteousness and humility.

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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Discussion (1)
August 14, 2007
The Tanya, (Life)
Oh my, I am now almost sixty years old. It is only now that I am just beginning to realize the ignorance of my ways.

I feel as though I have been trying to make my way through a very thick jungle by clearing a trail for myself using a machette to chop down everything in my way.

I did not realize that a paved road already existed. It was just out of my line of sight. It was not at all hidden. It was out in the open all the time. - I just never bothered to look for it.

I do not know how else to express my thoughts about this matter. But I feel as though that paved road is Tanya.
Anonymous
Chicago, IL
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