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.

Approbation17 of the rabbis, long may they live, sons of the illustrious author, of blessed memory, whose soul is in Eden.

הַסְכָּמַת הָרַבָּנִים שֶׁיִּחְיוּ בְּנֵי הַגָּאוֹן הַמְחַבֵּר זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה נִשְׁמָתוֹ עֵדֶן.

Whereas it has been agreed by us to grant permission and authorization to bring to the printing press,

הֱיוֹת שֶׁהוּסְכַּם אֶצְלֵינוּ לִיתֵּן רְשׁוּת וְהַרְמָנָא לְהַעֲלוֹת עַל מַכְבֵּשׁ הַדְּפוּס,

for a remembrance for the Children of Israel

לְזִכָּרוֹן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל,

the written works of uprightness and truth,18 “words of the living G‑d” (as Chasidic discourses are called) by our lord, our father, master, and teacher, of blessed memory,

כָּתוּב דִּבְרֵי יוֹשֶׁר וֶאֱמֶת, דִּבְרֵי אֱלֹקִים חַיִּים שֶׁל אֲדוֹנֵנוּ אָבִינוּ מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּנוּ זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה,

recorded personally by his own holy hand in his own saintly expression,

כְּתוּבִים בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה בְּעַצְמוֹ וּלְשׁוֹנוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ,

whose words are all like burning fiery coals, which ignite people’s hearts, to draw them near to our Father in heaven.

שֶׁכָּל דְּבָרָיו כְּגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ בּוֹעֲרוֹת, יַלְהִיבוּ הַלְּבָבוֹת לְקָרְבָן לַאֲבִיהֶן שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם,

These discourses are collectively entitled Iggeret Hakodesh (“the holy epistle”), being mostly epistles sent by his holy eminence to teach the people of G‑d the way by which they should walk and the deed which they should do.

וּבְשֵׁם אִגֶּרֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ נִקְרְאוּ, שֶׁרוּבָּם הָיוּ אִגֶּרֶת שָׁלוּחַ מֵאֵת כְּבוֹד קְדוּשָּׁתוֹ לְהוֹרוֹת לְעַם ה' הַדֶּרֶךְ יֵלְכוּ בָהּ וְהַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשׂוּן,

“The way…” probably refers to the Chasidic paths of self-perfection, those letters offering guidance in attaining love and awe of G‑d and in the proper service of G‑d through prayer and Torah study, while “the deed…” refers to the inspirational letters dealing with charity and the like.

Inasmuch as [our father] has made reference, in many places,19 to his Sefer Likkutei Amarim, and since20 “the words of Torah are scanty in one place and ample in another” so that some subjects in Iggeret Hakodesh are more fully elucidated in Likkutei Amarim and vice versa

וּמֵחֲמַת שֶׁבְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת הִצִּיב לוֹ צִיּוּנִים בְּסֵפֶר "לִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים" שֶׁלּוֹ, וְדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה עֲנִיִּים בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד וַעֲשִׁירִים בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר,

especially also since the [Iggeret Hakodesh] introduces new material (pertaining to Likkutei Amarim) in the form of a Kuntres Acharon (“Later Booklet”) on certain chapters, which he wrote when he composed the Sefer Likkutei Amarim;

וּמַה גַּם בִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר שֶׁנִּתְחַדֵּשׁ בּוֹ – "קוּנְטְרֵס אַחֲרוֹן" עַל אֵיזֶה פְּרָקִים, אֲשֶׁר כָּתַב בְּעֵת חִיבְּרוֹ הַסֵּפֶר "לִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים"

[the Kuntres Acharon] consists of profound discussions and insights in passages of the Zohar, Etz Chaim and Pri Etz Chaim, which appear to contradict one another,

– פִּלְפּוּל וְעִיּוּן עָמוֹק עַל מַאַמְרֵי זֹהַר וְעֵץ חַיִּים וּפְרִי עֵץ חַיִּים שֶׁנִּרְאִים כְּסוֹתְרִים זֶה אֶת זֶה,

and in his understanding spirit, [the author] resolves each passage according to its context as explained in Likkutei Amarimand thus this part of Iggeret Hakodesh is certainly directly connected to Likkutei Amarim21

וּבְרוּחַ מִבִּינָתוֹ מְיַשְּׁבָם כָּל דִּיבּוּר עַל אוֹפְנָיו שֶׁכָּתַב בְּ"לִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים",

accordingly, we have deemed it proper to join [the discourses in Iggeret Hakodesh] to the Sefer Likkutei Amarim and Iggeret Hateshuvah of his saintly eminence our lord, our father, teacher, and master (i.e., to print them together).

רָאוֹ רָאִינוּ, שֶׁרָאוּי וְנָכוֹן לְחַבְּרָם עִם סֵפֶר "לִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים" וְ"אִגֶּרֶת הַתְּשׁוּבָה" שֶׁל כְּבוֹד קְדוּשַּׁת אֲדוֹנֵנוּ אָבִינוּ מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּנוּ זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה.

Therefore we hereby place a great fence (i.e., prohibition) and the 22נח"ש (i.e., excommunication) of the Rabbis for which there is no remedy,

אֵי לָזֹאת, בָּאנוּ לְהָטִיל גּוּדָא רַבָּה וּגְזֵרַת נִדּוּי־חֵרֶם־שַׁמְתָּא דְּרַבָּנָן דְּלֵית לָהּ אַסְוָותָא,

that no man lift his hand12 to print [these discourses] in their present form together with the Likkutei Amarim, or one without the other,

שֶׁלֹּא יָרִים אִישׁ אֶת יָדוֹ לְהַדְפִּיס כְּתַבְנִיתָם אוֹ זֶה בְּלֹא זֶה

for a period of five years from the date below.

מֶשֶׁךְ חֲמִשָּׁה שָׁנִים מִיּוֹם דִּלְמַטָּה.

This, however, must be made known:

בְּרַם, כְּגוֹן דָּא צָרִיךְ לְאוֹדוֹעֵי,

To our misfortune,23 the manuscripts written by his personal saintly hand, which were composed with great precision without a superfluous or deficient letter, have become extinct.

שֶׁבַּעֲוֹנוֹתֵינוּ הָרַבִּים, סָפוּ תַמּוּ כִּתְבֵי יָדוֹ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה בְּעַצְמוֹ אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ בְּדִקְדּוּק גָּדוֹל לֹא חָסֵר וְלֹא יָתֵר אוֹת אַחַת,

All that has remained from the abundance of material is this small number of writings, which have been collected one by one from the copies spread among the disciples.

וְלֹא נִשְׁאַר, כִּי אִם זֶה הַמְעַט מֵהַרְבֵּה אֲשֶׁר נִלְקְטוּ אֶחָד לְאֶחָד מֵהַעְתָּקוֹת הַמְפוּזָּרִים אֵצֶל הַתַּלְמִידִים,

Should, therefore, an error be discovered—for “who can avoid errors?”24—the obvious error will be identified as deriving from a scribal slip, but the meaning will be clear.

וְאִם הִמָּצֵא תִמָּצֵא אֵיזֶה טָעוּת, "שְׁגִיאוֹת מִי יָבִין?", יִמָּצֵא הַטָּעוּת דְּמוּכָח מִטָּעוּת סוֹפֵר, וְהַכַּוָּונָה תִּהְיֶה בְּרוּרָה:

Today is the 5th day [Thursday], 22 Iyar, in the year 574 of the [sixth] millennium.25

הַיוֹם, יוֹם ה' כ"ב אִיָּיר תקע"ד לִפְרָט קָטָן.

Declared by DovBer, the son of my lord, father, teacher, and master, gaon and Chasid, saint of Israel, our teacher and master Schneur Zalman, of blessed memory, whose soul rests in the hidden treasure houses of heaven.

נְאוּם דּוֹב בֶּער בֶּן אֲדוֹנִי אָבִי מוֹרִי וְרַבִּי הַגָּאוֹן הֶחָסִיד קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל מָרָנָא וְרַבָּנָא שְׁנֵיאוֹר זַלְמָן זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, נִשְׁמָתוֹ בְּגִנְזֵי מְרוֹמִים.

Declared also by Chaim Avraham, the son of my lord, father, teacher, and master, gaon and Chasid, our teacher and master Schneur Zalman; may the memory of the tzaddik be blessed, whose soul rests in the hidden treasure houses of heaven.

וּנְאוּם חַיִּים אַבְרָהָם בֶּן אֲדוֹנִי אָבִי מוֹרִי וְרַבִּי הַגָּאוֹן הֶחָסִיד מָרָנָא וְרַבָּנָא שְׁנֵיאוֹר זַלְמָן זֵכֶר צַדִּיק לִבְרָכָה, נִשְׁמָתוֹ בְּגִנְזֵי מְרוֹמִים.

Declared also by Moshe, the son of my lord, father, teacher, and master, gaon and Chasid Schneur Zalman, of blessed memory, whose soul rests in the hidden treasure houses of heaven.26

וּנְאוּם מֹשֶׁה בֶּן אֲדוֹנִי אָבִי מוֹרִי וְרַבִּי הַגָּאוֹן הֶחָסִיד שְׁנֵיאוֹר זַלְמָן זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, נִשְׁמָתוֹ בְּגִנְזֵי מְרוֹמִים.