Born on the 20th day of Cheshvan, in the year 5621 (1860), the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Shalom DovBer married just shy of his fifteenth birthday.1 Five years after his marriage, his first and only child was born, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.2

R. Shalom DovBer passed away at the age of sixty,3 having suffered from various ailments throughout much of his life. His poor physical state often compelled him to travel to health resorts in other countries. In the years 5647-5649 (1887-1889), he journeyed to France, Germany, Austria, Bohemia and Italy. During these years, he returned to Lubavitch only occasionally. It was sometime in the year 5648 (1888) that he wrote his first will and testament, based on the verse, “Educate a child in accordance to his way, so that even when he grows old he will not depart from it”4—hence the name of this tract.5 At the time, R. Shalom DovBer was only 27 years old.

In view of his poor health and the young age of his sole offspring, who was only seven or eight years old, we can readily under­stand why R. Shalom DovBer devoted so much of his will to the subject and importance of his son’s education and upbringing.6 In fact, the only published portion of his will that appears to be entirely unrelated to the theme of education is the last chapter, entitled, The Power of Prayer. Here, R. Shalom DovBer explains the efficacy of prayer, and in so doing reconciles several paradoxical state­ments of our Sages regarding prayer and mazal.

For the most part, however, Chanoch Lanaar is devoted to the topic of education. Indeed, the reader cannot help but marvel at R. Shalom DovBer’s phenomenal erudition displayed in his references to, and elucidation of, numerous sources on this subject. He draws upon teachings from the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and countless commentators. In fact, Chanoch Lanaar might well be regarded as the definitive anthology of classic Jewish thought in many areas of chinuch (education and upbringing).

In the chapter entitled, Discipline, the author discusses the importance of discipline in general, and the role of corporal punishment in particular.7 Although modern day psychologists, for the most part, condemn the use of corporal punishment, R. Shalom DovBer endorses its value. Basing his views on a plethora of Jewish sources, R. Shalom DovBer seems to have adopted what today would be considered an unpopular position on this controversial issue.

It must be noted, however, that in this work, R. Shalom DovBer does not delve into the very strict and complex guidelines governing its use.8 R. Shalom DovBer himself struck his son only once during his lifetime, and even then, with merely a light slap. The particulars of the incident are recorded in a narrative included in the addendum. Clearly, then, his strong views on the subject should not be misconstrued as carte blanche to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool.9

Except for certain sections that were not released for publication, R. Shalom DovBer’s first will and testament was originally published by Kehot Publication Society in 5703 (1943), under the title Chanoch Lanaar.

The publication also included a ten-page biography of the author, and a comprehensive bibliography of his many published books, discourses and letters—prepared by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. These appendices to the Hebrew publication have not been translated in this volume. However, an excerpt from R. Shalom DovBer’s final will, composed a few days prior to his demise (published as an appendix in the original Hebrew work) has been translated. In addition, a few selected stories illustrating R. Shalom DovBer’s approach to education have been included by the translator.

Since it was written as a testament, the Hebrew original contains no chapters at all. These have been added in this work by the translator. Similarly, the translator has taken the liberty of breaking lengthy Hebrew paragraphs into smaller, more digestible ones.

To further facilitate comprehension, references by the author appearing in the body of the text are included, for the most part, as footnotes in this translation. Annotations and supplementary references added by the translator are enclosed in square brackets.

This work has benefited immensely from the contributions of Rabbi Sholom Ber Wineberg and Mrs. Baila Olidort, the editors of this publication.

Thanks also to Rabbi Yosef B. Friedman, who prepared this volume for publication, coddling and coaxing it to completion. For all their deletions, insertions, and clarifications, a debt of gratitude is gratefully acknowledged.

Y. Eliezer Danzinger

Thornhill, Ontario
Yud Shevat 5759 (1999)