“The Rebbe’s incredible genius spanned across every discipline. There is no area of the Talmud – Babylonian and Jerusalem – as well as the legal decisors, early and late commentaries etc. with which he was not intimately familiar … even to differentiating between matters that seem identical, and connecting subjects that seemed entirely disparate and having no apparent link. This is the uniqueness of the Rebbe, the completeness of his study in every category of greatness…”

—Rabbi Yisroel Yitschok Piekarsky, Rosh Yeshiva of the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, USA

Everyone is aware of the Rebbe’s great leadership and his vast effort to revitalize and elevate the prestige of Judaism among Jews everywhere. However, not everyone is aware of the Rebbe’s greatness as a Torah scholar. Perhaps because he is so well known for his leadership, insufficient emphasis has been placed on his greatness and genius in Torah.

It is beyond the capability of ordinary people to offer an evaluation of the Rebbe’s genius. Anyone who looks, howeverNot everyone is aware of the Rebbe's greatness as a Torah scholar superficially, into a discourse by the Rebbe is amazed by his extraordinary mastery of all Torah disciplines. Every one of the Rebbe’s discourses is adorned with scores, even hundreds, of references to every part of Torah including the two Talmuds and their commentaries, Scriptural verses, responsa, halacha, kabbalah, midrash, and commentaries from the very earliest to the most current. It is doubtful if anyone can be found today, and only a very few in previous generations, who innovated so much in Torah, and whose immense creative oeuvre spreads across 250 volumes encompassing every aspect of Torah.

However, it is certainly illuminating to take note of some of the more obvious aspects of the Rebbe’s Torah study.

Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of the Rebbe’s Torah is the simple logic, whereby he extracts the profoundest point of a given topic, while simultaneously embracing and driving home every element without neglecting even the minutest detail.

At the start of a discourse the Rebbe disassembles every element, presenting seemingly irreconcilable problems. He surprises us with the ‘klotz kashe’ – the simpleton’s question – the one which both scholars and ordinary folk are embarrassed to ask because of its seeming simplicity, even though the matter would seem impervious to solution. Later however, as the Rebbe explains and clarifies the matter, and extracts the profundity that is hidden in the verse, these statements by the Sages etc., become simple, clear and fully illuminated, so much so that one cannot imagine it being understood in any other way.

Hence, because of the plain logic of the Rebbe’s Torah, his teachings have become the people’s legacy. The Rebbe does not get involved in complex ‘pilpul’ (hairsplitting). On the one hand he anchors his point in the powerful underpinnings of Scripture and Talmud and their commentaries; on halacha, midrash and kabbalah. On the other hand, he offers a lucid explanation, clarification and itemization with a logic that virtually begs itself.

The Rebbe’s Torah is an amazing synthesis, which is expressed through three points: Clarity, Expertise, and Conciseness.


The Rebbe “plunges” into the depths of the Talmud, drawing from the wellsprings of the most profound and complex subjects, in which great scholars invest years of study in order to grasp their meaning. Yet, the Rebbe would appear to have them in the palm of his hand. When the Rebbe cites them in his discourses, everything seems very accessible and routine, as if there were no possibility of getting entangled.


For those who study his Torah, the remarkable clarity with which the Rebbe presents a topic does not require them to compromise any of its depth and richness. It is all very plain, yet bears within all its depth. The Rebbe constructs his discourses with an artist’s hand. Everything is unified, assembled, harmonious. Like turrets, every discourse and talk, from beginning to end, is methodically constructed. No detail is left unexplained, or deviates from the general construct.


The demands of clarity and expertise might understandably result in a long and complicated essay, yet with the Rebbe there is an added wonder, perhaps even greater than the aforementioned – an inexplicable conciseness. The Rebbe takes vast topics from the outer limits of Torah – at times even contradictory themes – and with astonishing genius he distills from them into a handful of sentences, a few words. In discourse after discourse, talk after talk, with brilliant precision, the expanses of Torah consolidate and transform into a comprehensive structure of, “a single casting of pure gold.”

For the Rebbe, the entire Torah in all its detailsFor the Rebbe, the entire Torah in all its details and parts is one and parts is one. Through his breadth of knowledge all of Torah is spread before him, and with his pure intellect he grasps the depth of the topic and identifies its core point, which is equally applied in an entirely different and remote subject - as if “turning mountains (seemingly disconnected matters) and grinding them together with logic.”

By drawing forth the depth of the core point, the Rebbe demonstrates how every point and detail in the Torah is not limited to the specific matter at hand, but rather contains within it a general principle applicable to the Torah in its entirety.

When learning the Rebbe’s teachings, one can easily get the impression that the Rebbe saw himself only as an arranger and collector, irrigating the world with the Torah of his masters. Yet, for this very reason, one is struck by an awareness that in this process of this arranging a personal stream manifests itself; a flood of innovations spanning the entire Torah, all of them written with the greatest simplicity – even when they deal with the most profound matters and the loftiest ideas.

Through his method of learning, the Rebbe offers a personal example of “when your wellsprings overflow” – even when the river spreads it does not nullify the sources of its water. As the waters overflow, the source increases and grows stronger. Despite all his modesty and self-abnegation, the Rebbe demonstrates an intense independence as he evaluates, innovates and reaches conclusions in the entire Torah and in all of existence.

The Rebbe lived a life that personified all that he taught. He helped others see each thing in a brighter light, revealing its true depth, broadening its scope and expanding its reach. Any topic or idea he touched was elevated to new heights, but always — always! — grounded in the firm foundation of Torah, with fidelity only to the original texts and sources, taking no credit for himself. By the time the Rebbe finished illuminating a Talmudic, mystical, or even worldly aspect, it seemed so simple, so evident, so “right there” in the original text, one couldn’t imagine it otherwise.

The simplicity of the Rebbe’s words, as well as the fact that in every topic he would discover and reveal an instruction for everyday life, may explain our unsuitable awareness of his unfathomable brilliance. For those who were fortunate to be suffused with the fragrance of the Rebbe’s Torah, it was indeed “a light unto their eyes and a restorative for their souls.”

(The aforementioned is based on the observations of contemporary Jewish luminaries and sages.)