The purpose of the Tanya

1. The scriptural verse that the Sefer is founded on:
  • The teachings in this Sefer are found on, and expound on, the verse[1], “Ki Karov Eilecha Hadavar Meod Beficha Ubilivavecha La’asoso/For this matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” The Sefer explains the meaning of this verse and how it can, and is meant to, be fulfilled as explained next.

2. The purpose of the Sefer:
  • Help one to easily become the perfect Jew who loves and fears G-d and does not sin: The purpose of this Sefer is to clearly explain how the above verse can be fulfilled, and how it is exceedingly easy to serve G-d with one’s mouth, heart [i.e. one’s thought[2], and with the emotions of love and fear[3]], and action [fulfilling all negative and positive commands].
    • A deeper look-What are we trying to achieve? The purpose of this Sefer which the Alter Rebbe authored is to show a Jew how it is easily attainable for him to become completely G-d-fearing in avoidance of all sin and fulfillment of all positive commands in both thought, speech, and action, while at the same time being emotionally devoted to G-d, through love and fear which is in the heart. This is the level of a Beinoni. This book teaches us not only how to become the perfect Jew and reach the epitome of expectations that G-d has of us, but furthermore, it will show us how it is very easily able to be done. In this book we will learn exercises in how to arouse love and fear of G-d, receive consultation in how to control our thoughts, and receive motivation to be meticulous in performing the mitzvah’s.
    • A deeper look-How is it so easily achievable? On the onset, it seems that this book is trying to accomplish the impossible. Not only is it extremely difficult to be a perfect Jew and never sin, but it is even more difficult to control one’s emotions of loving and fearing G-d. Indeed, this is the entire novelty of the Alter Rebbe to show the Jew various paths in achieving this goal in an easy manner. The gist of it is as follows: The sages teach us that love of G-d is the root of all positive commands and fear of G-d is the root of all negative commands. This means to say that the fulfillment of all of one’s Torah and mitzvahs should be the result of emotional motivations of love and fear of G-d. Because one is in love with G-d he will passionately desire to fulfill all of his commands, and because one has a vivid fear of G-d’s presence, he will therefore abstain from sinning. In this Sefer the Alter Rebbe will teach us how to attain these feelings of love and fear, and how this will then make our devotion to G-d and to his commands be very easy.
  • How we will achieve this: This Sefer will explain how one can easily serve G-d in both a lengthy and a concise manner. This will all be done with the help of G-d, as once one begins the right path of service of G-d Hashem will then assist him to reach the finish line.
    • A deeper look-The long and short route to achieve the above:[4] There are two different ways in understanding the above statement. The first is that the Alter Rebbe will explain to us two different methods in how to achieve the Beinoni status, one being a long method and the second being a short method. The long method is through arousing love and fear of G-d through deep intellectual contemplation, which is harder to achieve. The second is through arousing the natural love that one has in his heart for G-d, which is easy to achieve. However, the Rebbe[5] suggests a second approach based on the Talmud[6] that the intent is to teach us a single method of how to achieve the level of a Beinoni, and this itself contains a long and short aspect. It is long from the perspective that it is difficult to achieve at first, as it refers to the first method brought above of intellectually aroused love and fear. However, once he has achieved this then his service of G-d becomes very easy.

[1] Nitzavim 30:14

[2] Hearos Tzemach Tzedek in name of Shelah; Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz in Mamarim; Tanya Mevueres p. 7 footnote 13

[3] See Tanya Chapter 17; Zohar, brought in Hakdama

[4] See Lessons in Tanya; Tanya Mevueres p. 8

[5] Likkutei Sichos 34 p. 173

[6] Eiruvin 53b

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.