At the farbrengen on Shabbos Parshas Nosso, Sivan 14 (May 24), the Rebbe requested that those who had participated in the publication of the Tanya should say “L’chaim” to him. I was facing the Rebbe in the well of the hall in my usual farbrengen place. I held a large tumbler, half-filled with wine, and the Rebbe nodded to me. I said “L’chaim” and drank. The Rebbe was unimpressed with this half-filled cup, because he told me to fill my cup again, this time right to the brim. I thus said “L’chaim” again to the Rebbe, and drank it all in one shot. The Rebbe also wished “L’chaim” to Bernard, Nachman, and Hershel.

Following this, the Rebbe delivered another sicha about the Tanya, first tracing the history of the Tanya’s various translations:

The first was about 75 years ago when Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson [1867-1942; died in Bastia, Corsica, during WWII. –Ed.], the youngest son of the Rebbe Maharash, translated the first chapter of the Tanya into Russian. It was a great success and it was received with acclaim. However, no further progress was made until the previous Rebbe published a Yiddish version [1940s].

Translations into English, French, Italian and Spanish came later [during our Rebbe’s reign]. However, now is the first time the translation appears in the same volume as the original Hebrew, page by page. It is the first time a different language is directly opposite the original Hebrew text. This placed a heavy responsibility on those who had carried out this pioneering work. It was a bold step. Now, students will be able to much more easily learn and understand the Tanya.

The highest thanks are extended to all those who had taken part in its publication and, since it was now done, it deserves – and will, please

G‑d, achieve – great success and there will hopefully soon be a second and then a third edition. This third edition would create a chazoka and it would become a permanent production. This will help make it possible to translate other chassidic texts in the same manner, too.

The manner with which they worked was also very commendable: using their own funds and without requiring constant consultations, advice and guidance at every little stage.

Those who had worked on its publication have a zechus (merit) for the hard work and dedication, and since they were not functioning on their “own accord,” but were carrying out what they were told to do, the ultimate responsibility is not theirs.

Following this sicha, the Rebbe summoned the Tanya committee to come up to the dais. A bottle of vodka was presented to each one of us (Rabbi Nachman Sudak, Bernard Perrin, Hershel Gorman and me).

Later in the farbrengen, the Rebbe asked a number of questions on a rather long Rashi. As was the case previously, it was my good fortune (or misfortune) to be appointed by the Rebbe to keep count of the questions.

I did my best.

When the Rebbe concluded, he leaned towards me and asked, “How many [questions]?” I categorically and emphatically informed the Rebbe I had counted fourteen. (Perhaps I should have answered “four,” because after the “four questions,” I was stuck and had completely forgotten the details of the rest.)

I asked my son-in-law, Shmuel Lew, to help me discover these fourteen questions which I had so conscientiously (or unconsciously) counted. To my great amazement and to his surprise, he did manage to find a total of fourteen unique questions. With Shmuel’s help, I will now endeavor to explain this sicha in simple language, which my “youngest” reader (not necessarily in age) will be able to comprehend.

On each day of the twelve-day dedication of the mishkan [tabernacle], an offering was presented by the head of one tribe. The tribe of Yehudah offered on the first day and Issachar went second. Quoting two verses from the second day’s offering (Bamidbar 7:18-19) “Nesanel the son of Tzuar did offer, he brought his offering,” Rashi questions, “why are the words ‘did offer’ only used for the tribe of Issachar and not with any of the other tribes?” [The Rebbe now asked:]

(1) Rashi customarily gives the solution without spelling out a question. Why, in this instance, does Rashi state the question?

(2) The variance in the wording is plainly obvious, why does Rashi need to point it out explicitly?

Rashi’s commentary continues: “Reuven [the oldest of the tribes] protested and said, ‘It is enough that my brother Yehudah precedes me, I should offer after him.’”

(3) Why was Reuven content to follow after (the younger) Yehudah?

(4) Earlier in the Torah, by the census (Bamidbar 7:2), we find Reuven going first; why not here, too?

(5) Why does Rashi emphasize that Yehudah was Reuven’s brother?

Rashi then explains the reason why Issachar went second (yet still not Reuven). “Moshe told Reuven that the Almighty had ordained that the princes should offer according to the order of their journeying and with their banners. Therefore, Issachar, who traveled with Yehudah, came after Yehudah.”

(6) The fact that “the Almighty had ordained this” should have been sufficient. Why add the reasoning of the journeying?

(7) What is the connection between the offerings and the order of the journeys in the first place?

(8) The order of the offerings follows “according to their journeying,” so why add “with their banners?”

(9) Several verses previously (verse 11), Rashi comments that G‑d told Moshe that the order of offerings would follow “according to their journeys,” but in that case, Rashi does not add “with their banners.” Why is it added here?

Rashi’s continues by explaining that “he offered” is repeated twice in Issachar’s case, to teach that Issachar’s special honor of being second was for two reasons: he excelled in Torah study and these offerings were initially the suggestion of the tribe of Issachar.

(10) None of the abovementioned reasons are because “G‑d had ordained that the offerings be brought according to the order of their journeying!”

(11) Zevulun offered third, following Issachar. We have two reasons why Issachar offered before Reuven, but why did Zevulun

also offer before him? Issachar’s excellence in Torah can perhaps also be applied to Zevulun, as this tribe produced scribes;

but coming up with “the idea of the offerings” definitely does not apply to Zevulun.

(12) Whenever Rashi brings two reasons, each reason on its own is not sufficient. Why are both reasons for Issachar’s going second necessary here?

(13) We may consider the first reason as insufficient, for what is the connection between Torah excellence and the offerings? Yet, the second reason – that Issachar suggested the offerings – does not address why Zevulun also preceded Reuven.

Rashi concludes his commentary: “Nesanel (The leader of Issachar’s tribe) suggested the offerings.”

(14) Why is it important to know who exactly had suggested it?

The Rebbe explained: When Yaakov blessed his children, he informed his firstborn son Reuven that the priesthood and kingship would be given to younger brothers instead.

Regarding the offerings, one may suggest that Reuven has lost this one, too. Yet Reuven continues to be first for certain things, such as the above-referenced census. Why then does Reuven not also retain his seniority at the offerings? This question impels Rashi to begin his commentary with a question.

Reuven’s complaint regarding Issachar’s precedence, though, is not directed against Yehudah. After all, Reuven is used to being second to Yehudah. Rashi alludes to this fact with Reuven’s response to Yehudah as being “my brother,” i.e. a deep brotherly love and understanding that existed between them.

Rashi now answers Reuven’s complaint of why Issachar precedes him by introducing that “the offerings were according to the order of their journeying with their banners.” The Jewish people traveled under four “banners,” each banner leading three tribes. Yehudah led one group which included Issachar and Zevulun; this group traveled first. The second group was led by Reuven. This is why after Yehudah offered, Issachar and Zevulun followed.

However, what is the connection between journeys and offerings? To this end, Rashi introduces Issachar’s great Torah knowledge and the

fact that they brought up the idea of the offerings in the first place, which is why Issachar went second. This is also why Rashi explicitly mentions Nesanel by name; for he personally came up with the idea of these offerings.

What still requires clarification is why Zevulun also came before Reuven. To answer this, we refer back to the journeying and camping of the Jewish people. Being under the same banner the three tribes of Yehudah, Issachar and Zevulun offered the first three days’ offerings and, therefore, Reuven, the “head” of the second group, came next.