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

Sefer

סֵפֶר

Likkutei Amarim (“A Compilation of Teachings”)

לִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים

Part One

חֵלֶק רִאשׁוֹן

entitled

הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם

sefer shel beinonim(“The Book of the Intermediates”)

סֵפֶר שֶׁל בֵּינוֹנִים

Compiled from sacred books and from teachers of heavenly saintliness, whose souls are in Eden; based upon the verse,1 “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.

מְלוּקָּט מִפִּי סְפָרִים וּמִפִּי סוֹפְרִים קְדוֹשֵׁי עֶלְיוֹן נִשְׁמָתָם עֵדֶן, מְיוּסָּד עַל פָּסוּק "כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאוֹד, בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ"; לְבָאֵר הֵיטֵב, אֵיךְ הוּא קָרוֹב מְאוֹד, בְּדֶרֶךְ אֲרוּכָּה וּקְצָרָה, בְּעֶזְרַת ה' יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

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 Likkutei Amarim—“A Compilation of Teachings,” claiming that he did no more than collect teachings “from books and teachers.” Chasidic tradition understands “books” as a reference to the works of the Maharal and the Shaloh, and “teachers” as the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch.2

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

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, cites a tradition1 concerning the approbations of the tzaddikim Rabbi Yehudah Leib Hakohen and Rabbi Zusya of Anipoli.2 This tradition originates 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 messengers5 to the aforementioned tzaddikim 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 Parashat 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”).6 Secondly, the ways of serving G-d taught in the Tanya serve to transmute the curses enumerated in Parashat Ki Tavo into blessings.

Both tzaddikim, 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,” 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 date7 as שנת פדותינו—“the year of our Redemption”—indicating, as above, that the Jewish people will greet Mashiach with the Tanya.

Approbation by the famous Rabbi and Chasid, a G-dly man of saintly renown, our teacher Rabbi Meshulam Zusil of Anipoli.

הַסְכָּמַת הָרַב הֶחָסִיד הַמְפוּרְסָם, אִישׁ אֱלֹהִי, קָדוֹשׁ יֵאָמֵר לוֹ, מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּנוּ הָרַב רַבִּי מְשׁוּלָם זוּסִיל מֵאֲנִיפָּאלִי:

I have seen the writings of this Rabbi8 and gaon; this G-dly man, saintly and pure; this luminous lens9 who brings every subject into sharp focus.

הִנֵּה בִּרְאוֹתִי אֶת הַכְּתָבִים שֶׁל הָרַב הַאי גָּאוֹן אִישׁ אֱלֹקִים קָדוֹשׁ וְטָהוֹר אַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא הַמְּאִירָה,

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)

וְטוֹב אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַאֲשֶׁר הִפְלִיא ה' חַסְדּוֹ וְנָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ הַטָּהוֹר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל אֵלֶּה

in order to show G-d’s people His holy ways.

לְהַרְאוֹת עַם ה' דְּרָכָיו הַקְּדוֹשִׁים.

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

וּרְצוֹנוֹ הָיָה שֶׁלֹּא לְהַעֲלוֹת אֶת הַכְּתָבִים הָהֵם לְבֵית הַדְּפוּס מֵחֲמַת שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ בְּכָךְ.

But because these pamphlets10 have spread among all Israel in numerous copies by sundry copyists,

רַק מֵחֲמַת הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַקּוּנְטְרֵסִים הָהֵם בְּקֶרֶב כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהַעְתָּקוֹת רַבּוֹת מִידֵי סוֹפְרִים מְשׁוּנִּים,

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

וּמֵחֲמַת רִבּוּי הַעְתָּקוֹת שׁוֹנוֹת, רַבּוּ הַטָּעוּיּוֹת־סוֹפְרִים בִּמְאֹד.

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

וְהוּכְרַח לְהָבִיא הַקּוּנְטְרֵסִים הָהֵם לְבֵית הַדְּפוּס.

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

וְהֵעִיר ה' אֶת רוּחַ הַשּׁוּתָּפִים, הֲרֵי הוּא הָרַבָּנִי הַמּוּפְלָג הַוָּתִיק מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּנוּ הָרַב רַבִּי שָׁלוֹם שַׁכְנָא בֶּן מוֹרֵנוּ הָרַב וְרַבֵּנוּ רַבִּי נֹחַ, וַהֲרֵי הוּא הָרַבָּנִי הַמּוּפְלָג הַוָּתִיק מוֹרֵנוּ הָרַב וְרַבֵּנוּ רַבִּי מָרְדְּכַי בֶּן מוֹרֵנוּ הָרַב וְרַבֵּנוּ רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל הַלֵּוִי,

to bring these pamphlets to the printing house in Slavita.

לְהָבִיא הַקּוּנְטְרֵסִים הָהֵם לְבֵית הַדְּפוּס בִּסְלַאוִויטַא.

I congratulate them on this good deed.

וּלְפָעֲלָא טָבָא אָמַרְתִּי יִישַׁר חֵילָא.

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

אַךְ עָלוּ בְּלִבָּם מָגוֹר מִסָּבִיב מִן הַדְּפוּסִים אֲשֶׁר רַבּוּ, שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לְהַזִּיק וּלְקַלְקֵל הַמְאוּשָּׁרִים.

In view of this, we have resolved to give this approbation so that no man shall lift hand or foot12

אֵי לָזֹאת, גָּמַרְנוּ בְּלִבֵּינוּ לִיתֵּן הַסְכָּמָה, לְבַל יָרִים אִישׁ אֶת יָדוֹ וְאֶת רַגְלוֹ

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

לִגְרוֹם לְהַמַּדְפִּיסִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל שׁוּם הֶיזֵּק חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בְּהַשָּׂגַת גְּבוּל בְּשׁוּם אוֹפֶן.

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.

וְאָסוּר לְשׁוּם אָדָם לִדְפּוֹס הַסֵּפֶר הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בִּלְתִּי יְדִיעַת הַמַּדְפִּיסִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל, עַד מֶשֶׁךְ חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים רְצוּפִים מִיּוֹם דִּלְמַטָּה.

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

וְשׁוֹמֵעַ לִדְבָרַי אֵלֶּה – יָבֹא עָלָיו בִּרְכַּת טוֹב.

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

הֲלֹא כֹּה דִּבְרֵי הַדּוֹרֵשׁ זֹאת לִכְבוֹד הַתּוֹרָה,

this day, Tuesday—the day on which the Creator twice saw that “it is good”13—of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year (פדותינ"ו) 556 of the [sixth] millennium.

הַיּוֹם יוֹם ג' שֶׁנִּכְפַּל בּוֹ "כִּי טוֹב", פָּרָשָׁה תָּבֹא, שְׁנַת פְּדוּתֵינוּ לִפְרָט קָטָן.

The insignificant Meshulam Zusil of Anipoli

הַקָּטָן מְשׁוּלָם זוּסִיל מֵאֲנִיפָּאלִי.

Approbation by the famous Rabbi and Chasid, a G-dly man of saintly renown, our teacher Rabbi Yehudah Leib Hakohen.14

הַסְכָּמַת הָרַב הֶחָסִיד הַמְפוּרְסָם, אִישׁ אֱלֹהִי, קָדוֹשׁ יֵאָמֵר לוֹ, מוֹרֵנוּ הָרַב וְרַבֵּנוּ רַבִּי יְהוּדָא לֵיבּ הַכֹּהֵן:

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

חָכְמַת אָדָם תָּאִיר פְּנֵי הָאָרֶץ,

when one sees the hand[writing]s15 of the author, the Rabbi and gaon, this G-dly man, saintly and pure, pious and humble,

בִּרְאוֹתִי יְדֵי קֹדֶשׁ הַמְחַבֵּר הָרַב הַגָּאוֹן אִישׁ אֱלֹקִים קָדוֹשׁ וְטָהוֹר חָסִיד וְעָנָיו,

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

אֲשֶׁר מִכְּבָר נִגְלָה מִסְתָּרָיו,

when he sat at the seat of wisdom16 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 Chasidic thought),

יוֹשֵׁב בַּשֶּׁבֶת תַּחְכְּמוֹנִי אֵצֶל אֲדוֹנֵינוּ מוֹרֵינוּ וְרַבֵּינוּ גְּאוֹן עוֹלָם,

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).

וְדָלָה מַיִם מִבְּאֵר מַיִם חַיִּים,

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,

וְכָעֵת יִשְׂמַח יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהִגָּלוֹת דִּבְרֵי קָדְשׁוֹ

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

הַמְּחוּבָּר לְהָבִיא לְבֵית הַדְּפוּס לְלַמֵּד לְעַם ה' דַּרְכֵי קֹדֶשׁ,

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

כַּאֲשֶׁר כָּל אֶחָד יֶחֱזֶה בִּפְנִימִיּוּת דְּבָרָיו,

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

וְהַמְפוּרְסָם אֵין צָרִיךְ רְאָיָה.

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

רַק מֵחֲשַׁשׁ קִלְקוּל הַדָּבָר שֶׁלֹּא יִגְרוֹם הֶיזֵּק לַמַּדְפִּיסִים,

I hereby sound a firm warning—that no man raise his hand or foot12 to print (the Tanya)

בָּאתִי לִיתֵּן תּוֹקֶף וְאַזְהָרָה לְבַל יָרִים אִישׁ אֶת יָדוֹ וְרַגְלוֹ לִדְפוֹס

for a period of five years from the date below.

עַד מֶשֶׁךְ חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים מִיּוֹם דִּלְמַטָּה.

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

וְשׁוֹמֵעַ לִדְבָרַי אֵלֶּה – יָבוֹא עָלָיו בִּרְכַּת טוֹב.

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

הֲלֹא כֹּה דִּבְרֵי הַמְדַבֵּר זֹאת לִכְבוֹד הַתּוֹרָה,

this day, Tuesday, of the weekly portion Tavo, in the year 556 of the [sixth] millennium.

הַיּוֹם יוֹם ג' פָּרָשָׁה תָּבֹא תקנ"ו לִפְרָט קָטָן.

Yehudah Leib Hakohen

יְהוּדָא לֵיבּ הַכֹּהֵן.