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Introduction to the New Edition

Introduction to the New Edition

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It is with conflicting emotions that I write these words for the new edition of Torah Studies. I am delighted that the book has now passed through several editions, but deeply saddened that the great spiritual leader whose thoughts it contains, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory, has passed away. I hope that in a small way this volume will help to ensure that his words and teachings live on.

Torah Studies represents only a fragment of the vast body of the Rebbe’s teachings. His collected writings and speeches are gathered in more than a hundred volumes in Hebrew and Yiddish, and constitute an immense legacy to future generations. They include Torah expositions, halakhic analysis, Talmudic discourses, explorations of Jewish mysticism and letters of guidance to Jews throughout the world.

The essays collected here are selected from the Rebbe’s investigations into the weekly Torah portion. In these studies of our most sacred texts, the Rebbe weaves together the results of many centuries of traditional Jewish scholarship, focusing them through the prism of his intense Chassidic spirituality. Time and again the result is a fresh insight into the great themes of Jewish life, themes no less relevant today than in our long and distinguished past.

The Rebbe wanted us to see the unity that lies behind the apparent diversity of existence. Listening to his expositions, we move beneath the surface of conflict and come to see that disagreement between the great sages is no more and no less than a difference of perspectives on a single Divine reality. The more we travel inward in our understanding of Torah the closer we come to the Oneness that pervades all spiritual truth.

For the Rebbe this was no mere academic exercise. At an individual level it is a journey toward integration of the human personality. At a collective level it is the ultimate path to the unity of the Jewish people. We are one because we are part of the Torah. The Torah is one because it is the word of G‑d. That is the truth which our ancestors carried with them from generation to generation, enlarging not only themselves but the moral horizons of mankind. It was the truth to which the Rebbe dedicated his life, inspiring those who came into contact with him or were touched by his message.

Great spiritual teachings do not die. It is my hope that this brief selection taken from the Rebbe’s words will serve as a living reminder that the Torah continues to be our Tree of Life.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks,
Tu b’Shvat 5756

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