1. A mashpia1 sets himself aside. He focuses only on the situation of the recipient. Rashbi and his son R. Elazar in the cave do not exemplify the relationship of mashpia (mentor) and mekabel (disciple, lit., “recipient”). This was a relationship between the father’s essence and the son’s essence.2

The preparation of the text of Tanya for publication took about a year and a half, from 5658 (1898) to 5660 (1900).3

My father taught me4 the [Alter Rebbe’s] epistle regarding hashpaah to one’s son5 in ten sessions. (On Motzaei Shabbos and at night we used to learn side subjects.) His explanation of that epistle served as the basis for his discussion on the Divine service of a servant (eved) and the Divine service of a son (ben), which appears in his series of maamarim entitled Yom-Tov shel Rosh HaShanah, 5666 (1906).

2. In Wurzberg on Yud-Tes Kislev, 5667 (1906), my father discussed three modes of [the transmission of spiritual concepts and values that is called] hashpaah. They are termed hashpaah, hakaah and hofaah.

He took hold of R. Elchanan’s beard and said, “Once a man is over seventy, he shouldn’t be asleep!”

My father said: “After the release of the Alter Rebbe from Petersburg, he was compelled [from Above] to restrict his mode of revealing Elokus [to his disciples] to [the milder] mode called hashpaah, and not in the [harsher modes of] hakaah and hofaah – just as Atzmus restricted itself at the Giving of the Torah.6

(That sichah brought me to tears: how could a creature in a body hear such intensely powerful words!7 )

3. The story about R. Yosef the wagon driver from Beshenkovitz.8

Two melamdim from Beshenkovitz, R. Mendel and R. Peretz, both of whom had a sound grasp of Chassidus, used to visit Lubavitch for Shavuos. R. Peretz was related to Abba Zelig, the son of R. Yosef the wagon driver, and would repeat incidents about the conduct of the wagon driver, who was also a store-owner. He took his davenen seriously, enjoyed a witticism, and was always cheerful and helpful.

The esteemed chassid R. Abba of Tchashnik also knew this wagon driver and often related that his mind and all his faculties remained intact until he passed away in 5608 (1848) at the age of 110. Throughout his life he had practiced Tikkun Chatzos; he had visited the Mitteler Rebbe eight times; his first visit to the Tzemach Tzedek was in 5589 (1829); he had met R. Hillel; his first yechidus; he bewailed the fact that the higher, latent faculties of his Divine soul had not surfaced;he used to study Chumash with the commentary of Rashi and Ramban; [he visited the Tzemach Tzedek] five times, the last time in 5608 (1848).

4. My grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, relayed the above account to my father at a yechidus in 5638 (1878), and added: “It would take months to integrate and fully live that account in all its details. Only then can one have some inkling of the avodah of a pnimi.”

5. There was a time when my father used to share segments of such yechidus sessions with his friend, R. Yaakov Mordechai Bespalov. While he relayed the above description of the wagon driver, R. Yaakov Mordechai wept bitterly from the very walls of his heart, and for the following few days he davened with bitter tears and was in a state of deep remorse.

Several days later, when he had regained his composure, I asked him why this description had affected him so profoundly. He replied: “If a chassid of the Alter Rebbe who toiled in avodah for thirty years had not yet refined his natural middos and was unable to bring himself to obey the directive to become a wagon driver, what can we say in his wake? That means that one9 is living in such deep self-delusion that he is mere falsehood!”

6. “Its measure is longer than the earth.”10 That verse applies, and fully so, to nigleh, the Torah’s revealed dimension. To the Torah’s pnimiyus – its inner, mystical dimension – it applies in infinite measure. And here we see that even a narrative about the life of a certain chassid can be filled with infinitely rich content.

7. [Similarly,] one day while we were walking, my father said: “It is written, ‘This is the book of the chronicles of man.’11 The chronicles of a man constitute an entire book from which one can learn a great deal – in haskalah, and even more in avodah.”

8. The kabbalas ol of a pnimi, his disciplined self-submission to the Will of G‑d, is not an instantaneous decision, but a resolve that results from an earnest inner avodah-debate.

At that time my father told me of six kinds of kabbalas ol that spring from one’s pnimiyus, from one’s innermost depths. He exemplified each kind by referring to a particular chassid, and illustrated each case with a narrative. One such example was the above narrative about R. Yosef the wagon driver.

9. Among the arrivals to the periodic fairs in Lubavitch were several respected and successful businessmen from Shklov and Minsk. The heavyweight scholars among them used to visit my great-grandfather the Tzemach Tzedek and expound their chiddushim, their original Torah insights.

One of them, a prominent misnaged, once said to my great-grandfather: “In every context and on every subject, your learned grandfather [i.e., the Alter Rebbe] cites the language of Rambam, and with regard to most of the Talmudic debates and halachic decisions he follows his approach. Why, then, when Rambam12 names the three souls of man tiv’is (‘the natural soul’), chiyunis (‘the vital soul’) and sichlis (‘the intellective soul’), does your grandfather name them chiyunis (‘the vital soul’), sichlis (‘the intellective soul’) and Elokis (‘the Divine soul’)? What did he do with the tiv’is (‘the natural soul’)?”

The Tzemach Tzedek replied: “Out of the [person animated by a] nefesh hativ’is (‘natural soul’) my grandfather made a chassid. That ‘natural’ person who was transformed into a chassid has three souls: the chiyunis (‘the vital soul’), which regulates how a chassid ought to live, and the sichlis (‘the intellective soul’), which [provides] the mind that a chassid ought to have. And when a person lives as a chassid ought to live, and has the mind that a chassid ought to have, he can then have some appreciation of his nefesh Elokis (his ‘Divine soul’). At that point it is his nefesh Elokis, his Divine soul, that animates him.”

10. My grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, was studying the aggadah (in Pesachim 68b) which records that Rav Sheshes used to review his memorized studies every thirty days. He would exclaim, “Rejoice, my soul! Rejoice, my soul! For your sake do I study the Written Torah, for your sake do I study the Oral Torah!” On this passage Maharsha13 comments: “A person has three souls – tiv’is (‘a natural soul’), chiyunis (‘a vital soul’) and sichlis (‘an intellective soul’). The natural soul has no connection with Torah. He was addressing the other two souls. To the vital soul he said, ‘For your sake do I study the Written Torah,’ and to the intellective soul he said, ‘For your sake do I study the Oral Torah.’ ”

Studying the closing comment of Maharsha, the Rebbe Maharash asked his father: “Why is the study of the Written Torah superior to the study of the Oral Torah?”

[The Aramaic word that means ‘I study the Oral Torah’ is תנאי (tana’i). Hence] the Tzemach Tzedek answered: “Because the word תנאי is composed of the same letters as the word איתן (eisan; lit., ‘powerful’).”14

11. In the early days, between the years 5544-5547 (1784-1787), the following question was once raised at a farbrengen of a number of chassidim, including many of the finest young married Torah scholars from non-chassidic families:15 What did the Alter Rebbe accomplish through Chassidus as far as the individual is concerned?

After all, they reasoned, there was no lack of Torah study: even before the advent of Chassidus they used to study extensively and in depth. Avodah? They didn’t know that it was needed and that it was lacking. Materiality? Previously they had nothing superfluous, and they didn’t feel that they needed more than whatever they had. Now, too, they had no superfluous gashmiyus and didn’t feel that they needed any more. [So what novel addition, they asked, did the Alter Rebbe and his Chassidus give the individual? They answered their own question as follows:]

The Alter Rebbe’s novel accomplishment was that no one is lonely. In previous eras, a Rebbe – a rosh yeshivah or a gaon – was alone, and his disciples were alone. The path of Chassidus blazed by the Alter Rebbe brought about an awesome G‑dly innovation: the Rebbe is not alone and the chassidim are not alone.

12. Among the prominent guests who were present at the farbrengen of Yud-Tes Kislev, 5667 (1906), were: the brothers R. Shmuel and R. Nosson Gourary,16 R. Nachum Rabinovitch, R. Menachem Mendel Chassidov (Heilprin), R. Elimelech Stalberg, and R. Elchanan Morozov (who had come from Kenigsberg). Also present were a number of Polish and German Jews, such as Mr. Phillip Wolff and Mr. Shmuel Kohn.

Mr. Kohn, born in Hungary, was an advanced scholar who took his studies seriously. In the course of that farbrengen he said to my father: “What connection do we have with this? Why should we have to hear all this when we understand nothing?”

My father replied: “If you didn’t have to hear it, you wouldn’t have come. If Providence from Above brought you here, that indicates that you should be here. The Holy One, blessed be He, engineers circumstances so that each individual will arrive at a purposeful destination. As to your not understanding – there was a time when you likewise didn’t understand a discussion in the Gemara, yet you toiled in order to understand, and G‑d granted that you now can understand such a discussion. If you toil to understand Chassidus, G‑d will assuredly give you His help likewise.”