Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Than Merely A Simple Collection

Excerpt from Rabbi Itche Meyer Morgenstern's Explorations in Sefer Tanya:

The Tanya is based primarily on concepts culled from the Shelah HaKadosh and the Maharal, but this is by no means a mere compilation and should not be taken as such. Although the Baal HaTanya in his great humility seems to imply that his work was merely a simple collection of what was already easily accessible in earlier works, we must not make the grave of taking this at face value. It is interesting that the word Likutei or compilation was used by many tzaddikim to describe or even title their works. For example, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov called his magnum opus, “Likutei Moharan.” Clearly there must be deeper significance to the word Likutei than we might have thought.

In truth, there are five levels to everything holy: nefesh / basic vitality; ruach / spirit; neshamah / soul; chayah / life force; and yechidah / the unique aspect. The arrival of Moshiach depends on the revelation of the aspect of yechidah, which is associated with the sefirah of Kesser / Crown. Kesser is also sometimes referred to as a ליקוט since although Kesser is above all other levels, it also includes all the worlds and guides them to the ultimate goal. In a way, Kesser “compiles” the lower worlds and levels and puts them in a new order so that each attains its purpose. It is only through this new direction in the lower worlds that the level of yechidah is revealed.

Similarly, a Torah compilation reveals a system that gives a completely new life to the words of the earlier sages, imbuing their words with an entirely different light. This is readily apparent in these later generations, immediately prior to the ultimate redemption. Many learn works that are collections of earlier sources, and in this manner they understand with a level of completion that they would not have otherwise attained.

Similarly, the Baal HaTanya focused on the deeper aspects of the Torah that were first explained in the holy Zohar and which were subsequently discussed by Rishonim like the Ramban, the Avodas HaKodesh, and others. In their works, however, these deep concepts were still not crystal clear and could only be understood by very great scholars. Later, the Shelah HaKadosh and the Maharal explained these concepts at greater length and made them much more understandable, yet their very explanations were lengthy and not sufficiently clear to be grasped by just anyone. The Baal HaTanya therefore created a work that enables every Jew, no matter how simple, to have a connection to the avodah of the innermost aspects of Torah.


At August 13, 2009 at 1:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

Great post.
The Alter Rebbe writes that he has written his work based on the words of "Sfarim v'Sofrim".
Chassidim pass down that Sfarim includes the Shelah Hakodesh, kisvei Maharal, Kisvei Ha'arizal. Sofrim are the teachings of his Rebbeim that were not written down - the Ba'al Shem Tov, the Magid and R' Mendel Horodoker.

At August 13, 2009 at 2:13:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the blog, but please more posts from Rav Itcha Meir. This Tsadik has such a clear grasp on Torah.

At August 14, 2009 at 2:09:00 PM EDT, Blogger Itzchak Nissim said...

Is anyone aware that Rav Nachman commented on the Tanya saying there was a mistake in it ? I think this is found in the Sichos Haran or Chayeh Moran...

At August 17, 2009 at 11:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Mottel: Thank you, I find that very interesting.

At August 17, 2009 at 11:49:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Itzchak Nissan: You are misaken.
Even Chayay Moharan 132 which could be read that way, had nothing to do with the Tanya itself.
In addition there are two ways to learn that sichah, since it may not mean that Rebbe Nachman held that the Torah of the Baal HaTanya was wrong, merely that the chasidim who told over the shtickle Torah misunderstood it (or part of it.)

At August 17, 2009 at 11:51:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Itzchak Nissim: Please forgive me for misspelling your name in my last comment.


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