Daily Tanya Monday, 21st Kisleiv: Hakdamas Hamilaket-Authors introduction to Tanya-Part 1


Hakdamas Hamilaket-Authors introduction to Tanya

The novelty of the Tanya over other Sefarim in Avodas Hashem

(LY) 21st Kisleiv


Title of introduction:

The Alter Rebbe titled the introduction “Hakdamas Hamilaket” which means the “introduction of the compiler.” This follows the same theme as the title of the Sefer “Likkutei Amorim” in which the Alter Rebbe emphasizes that he is a mere Milaket, compiler of teachings of his predecessors and has not come here to espouse his own teachings.

Background and purpose:

This introduction was originally written by the Alter Rebbe as a letter to Anash [possibly in the year 1795[1], prior to the publication of the Tanya, when it was being distributed as Kuntreisim]. The purpose of this letter, which was established by the Alter Rebbe to become the introduction of the Tanya, is to relay to his followers, that they no longer need to enter into private audiences with him to consult in matters of service of G-d, as all of the advice that they would receive in these consultations is already written in this book, and through studying this book they will each find remedy for their spiritual dilemma.

 1. The disadvantages found in the currently available Sefarim in Avodas Hashem:

· It is a well-known belief that learning Avodas Hashem directly from a teacher is advantageous to studying from books of Avodas Hashem. There are several reasons for this, as there are several disadvantages in studying from a book of Avodas Hashem versus having a personal audience with the Tzadik, and receiving tutelage directly from him:

1. First disadvantage-Misunderstanding what is being read: When reading from a book, the book may be misunderstood, or its message not properly internalized, as every person understands written words in accordance with his level of intellect and comprehension at that time. If one’s intellect is already warped and confused, he can warp and confuse the message in the book. This applies even though the book itself is very holy and contains in it a hidden Divine light. When receiving personal tutelage, however, the teacher can make sure that he understands it properly.

2. Second disadvantage-Inability to relate and be inspired by the teachings: Aside for the first disadvantage of misunderstanding the material written in books, there is a second disadvantage which applies even if one understands the material, which prevents one from being properly inspired by it. This disadvantage is due to two reasons:

a. Books written based on the authors personal intellect and emotional experience: The teachings of some Mussar books are based on the authors personal intellect and understanding of the soul as opposed to the plain words of the sages, and since not all individuals have the same intellect or emotions, it is therefore very possible that one will not be able to relate at all to the message of the book, as what arouses one person’s intellect and heart and “talks to him”, does not find arousal in another. [This will be elaborated on in the coming segments.] This disadvantage does not apply when receiving tutelage directly from a teacher, as the teacher will make sure to teach him in accordance with his level of understanding.

b. Inability to find the Torah messages that relate directly to his soul: Even the Mussar books written purely based on the teachings of Chazal, to which all the Jewish people have a connection[2], not everyone merits to find their exact place in the Torah to where they are connected, and to properly reach the subject that relates personally to him. [This means to say that just as every person contains a different root of the soul, so too he contains a different Torah message that relates to him specifically, and therefore it is possible that a given book of Avodas Hashem talks of matters that does not relate to his soul, and he will hence be left uninspired by the book. What inspires one person may not inspire another.] This will be elaborated on in the coming segments.

2. Every Jew has a different intellect and understands things differently:

· The blessing of “Chacham Harazim: The Sages[3] teach us that upon seeing a group of 600,000 Jews, one is to say the blessing of “Chacham Harazim/The wisdom of the esoteric.” The reason that this blessing is recited is because every Jew has a different mind and intellect and form of comprehension, and it is only G-d who sees this and understands each and every level of every Jew. We therefore bless G-d upon seeing the 600,000 different avenues of intellect that it is only He who has wisdom of the esoteric and understands them. This emphasizes the point above that every Jew has a different intellect and form of understanding, and it is only G-d who has the ability to relate to it and not the authors of holy books.

· Only Yehoshua had Divine understanding of every Jew: Scripture[4] states that Yehoshua was a man who contained a spirit within him. The Sifri there explains this to mean that Yehoshua was unique in the fact that he contained an understanding and comprehension of the spirit of each and every Jew, and therefore knew how to approach each and every one of them, and this is the meaning of the verse which states that he contained a spirit within him. The Ramban[5] explains based on this that the blessing of Chacham Harazim can be said also upon seeing certain select Tzadikim, as suggested in the Talmud[6], as certain Tzadikim have ability to relate to all the souls of Israel, similar to Hashem Himself. This itself is due to them incorporating all the various souls of Israel, and different types of intellects, hence seeing such a Tzadik is similar to seeing 600,000 Jews, which deserves the blessing of Chacham Harazim.


From all the above is proven that every single Jew has a different type of intellect and understanding, and hence it is not possible for one individual who has a specific form and type of intellect to write a book which will intellectually relate to all the Jewish people. We will now further explain how this diversity applies even regarding to the teachings of Torah to which every single Jew contains an essential relation to, being that even in the Torah there is diversity which corresponds to the diversity found amongst the Jewish souls, and hence once again not every Jew can relate to every aspect or level of understanding of Torah.


3. The diversity found in the Torah:

· Even the revealed aspects of Torah, which is the field of Jewish law, is not entirely clear and definitive but rather is at times subject to interpretation and diversity of opinions as we can readily witness in the Talmud with the many debates regarding the permitted and the forbidden. Now, we view each of these opinions of these righteous scholars as a legitimate part of Torah, as it says that both opinions are considered the opinion of the living G-d.[7]

· Now, if even in the revealed parts of the Torah we find legitimate diversity, all the more so regarding the esoteric parts of the Torah, which deal with the emotions of love and fear, which are highly personal and subjective to each person based on the gates of his heart as the Zohar explains on the verse, Noda Bashearim Baalah.


4. Understanding different personalities of Jews-The Divine root of different souls:

· The cause for the various opinions found in Jewish law is due to the root of the souls of the various Sages.

· The three roots of souls: In general, Jewish souls derive from three different root traits; right which is kindness, left which is severity, and center.

· Souls rooted in the right tend to be lenient: Those souls which are rooted in the right side tend to be more lenient, as leniency points towards kindness.

[1] Tanya Mevueres p. 20 footnote 2

[2] As every single Jew is bound to the Torah, which in turn is bound to Hashem, and every single Jew thus carries an individual connection to a particular part of Torah.

[3] Brachos 58a; See Rashi ibid; Michaber O.C. 224:5; Kaf Hachaim 224:15-16

[4] Pinchas 27:18

[5] Milchamos Hashem

[6] Brachos ibid regarding that a certain Amora met another two Amorim on the road and desired to recite this blessing of Chacham Harazim upon seeing them

[7] Eiruvin 13b

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