Chassidus in general, and Chabad Chassidus in particular, is an all-embracing world outlook and way of life which sees the Jew’s central purpose as the unifying link between the Creator and Creation.1 The Jew is a creature of “heaven” and of “earth,” of a heavenly Divine soul, which is truly a part of G‑dliness,2 clothed in an earthly vessel constituted of a physical body and animal soul, whose purpose is to realize the transcendency and unity of his nature, and of the world in which he lives, within the absolute Unity of G‑d.

The realization of this purpose entails a two-way correlation: one in the direction from above downward to earth; the other, from the earth upward. In fulfillment of the first, man draws holiness from the Divinely given Torah and commandments to permeate therewith every phase of his daily life and his environment—his “share” in this world;3 in fulfillment of the second, man draws upon all the resources at his disposal, both created and man-made, as vehicles for his personal ascendancy and, with him, that of the surrounding world. One of these basic resources is the vehicle of human language and communication.

As the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya, pointed out in one of his other works,4 any of the “seventy tongues” when used as an instrument to disseminate the Torah and Mitzvoth, is itself “elevated” thereby from its earthly domain into the sphere of holiness, while at the same time serving as a vehicle to draw the Torah and Mitzvoth, from above downward, to those who read and understand this language.

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In the spirit of the abovementioned remarks, the volume presented here—the first English translation of the Tanya (Part I) since its first appearance 165 years ago—is an event of considerable importance. It brings this basic work of Chabad philosophy and way of life to a wider range of Jews, to whom the original work presents a language problem or even a barrier. It is thus a further contribution to the “dissemination of the fountains” of Chassidus which were unlocked by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, who envisaged Chassidus as a stream of “living waters,” growing deeper and wider, until it should reach every segment of the Jewish people and bring new inspiration and vitality into their daily lives.

The translation of such a work as the Tanya presents a formidable task. As a matter of fact, several unsuccessful attempts have been made at various times in the past to translate the Tanya into one or another of the European languages.5 It is therefore to the lasting credit of Dr. Nissan Mindel that this task has been accomplished.

Needless to say, translations are, at best, inadequate substitutes for the original. It is confidently hoped, however, that the present translation, provided as it is with an Introduction, Glossary, Notes and Indexes, will prove a very valuable aid to students of Chassidus in general, and of Chabad in particular.

Menachem Schneerson

Lag B’Omer, 5722