Shneur Zalman of Liadi

Shneur
Zalman of Liadi
1745
1812

Russian Orthodox Rabbi known as the Baal Ha Tanya, Founder and First Rebbe of Chabad, Author best known for writing Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Tanya and his Siddur Torah, also known as Shneur Zalman Baruchovitch, RaZaSh, Baal HaTanya veha Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe , Admor HaZaken "Old Rebbe", Rabbeinu HaZokein, Rabbeinu HaGodol, the GRaZ, and Rav

Author Quotes

And G?d called out to the man and said to him: Where are you?" Did G?d not know where Adam was? Rabbi Schneur Zalman asked the minister: Do you believe that the Torah is eternal, that its every word applies to every individual, under all conditions, at all times? The minister replied that he did. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was very gratified to hear this, for this was a basic principle of the "subversive" teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the propagation of which was at the heart of the accusations leveled against him. "Where are you?" said Rabbi Schneur Zalman to the minister, "is G?d's perpetual call to every man. Where are you in the world? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days -- Where are you? What have you accomplished?"

And now, Israel: What does the L-rd your G?d ask of you? Only to fear G?d" (Deuteronomy 10:12). Regarding this verse, the Talmud asks: "Is fear of G?d a minor thing?" The answer given is, "Yes, for Moses it is a minor thing." At first glance, this answer is incomprehensible, since the verse says "What does G?d ask of you" - i.e., every individual Jew! But the explanation is as follows: Each and every soul of the house of Israel contains within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, for he is one of the "seven shepherds" who feed vitality and G?dliness to the community of the souls of Israel.... Moses is the sum of them all, called the "shepherd of faith" (raaya meheimna) in the sense that he nourishes the community of Israel with the knowledge and recognition of G?d... So although who is the man who dares presume in his heart to approach and attain even a thousandth part of the level of the faithful shepherd, nevertheless, an infinitesimal fringe and minute particle of his great goodness and light illuminates every Jew in each and every generation.

Before a king enters the city, the people of the city go out to greet him in the field. There, everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him; he receives them all with a cheerful countenance and shows a smiling face to them all. And when he goes to the city, they follow him there. Later, however, after he enters his royal palace, none can enter into his presence except by appointment, and only special people and select individuals. So, too, by analogy, the month of Elul (which precedes G?d's "coronation" as King on Rosh Hashanah) is when we meet G?d in the field.

Every individual Jew, righteous or wicked, has two souls... One soul derives from kelipah (the "husks" of creation) and sitra achra (the "other side"), and clothes itself in the blood to animate the body... From it derive the evil traits... and also the Jew's instinctive good traits... The second soul in the Jew is literally a "part of G?d above."

For it is certainly right that a person feels ever-increasing joy over every single good point stemming from the holiness of Israel that he yet finds in himself.

Hence the special superiority, infinitely great and wonderful, that is in the mitzvah to know the Torah and comprehend it, over all the mitzvot involving action, and even those relating to speech, and even the mitzvah to study the Torah through speech.

I am diminished by all the kindnesses... You have shown Your servant (Genesis 32:11). "The meaning of this," explains Rabbi Schneur Zalman "is that every kindness bestowed by G?d upon a person should cause him to be exceedingly humble. For a [Divine] kindness is [an expression of] ... 'His right hand does embrace me' (Song of Songs 2:6) -- G?d is literally bringing the person close to Himself, far more intensely than before. And the closer a person is to G?d ... the greater the humility this should evoke in him... This because 'all before Him is as naught' (Zohar), so that the more 'before Him' a person is, the more 'as naught' [does he perceive himself to be].... This is the attribute of Jacob... The very opposite is the case in the contrasting realm of ... kelipah (evil): the greater the kindness shown a person, the more he grows in arrogance and self-satisfaction..." The letter concludes: "Therefore, I come with a great call to all our community regarding the many kindnesses which G?d has exceedingly shown us: Assume the attribute of Jacob... Do not feel yourselves superior to your brethren (i.e., the opponents of Chassidism); do not give free rein to your mouths regarding them, or hiss at them, G?d forbid. [I] strictly warn: Make no mention [of our victory]. Only humble your spirits and hearts with the truth of Jacob..."

One must live with the times. One should live with and experience in one's own life the Torah portion of the week and the specific section of the week's portion which is connected to that day.

One who is satisfied with his lot" (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1) describes a tremendous virtue in material matters, and a tremendous failing in all that pertains to one's spiritual attainments.

The inwardness of the heart is that ?point? in the inwardness and depth of the heart? it is, rather, an aspect from the supreme ?wisdom? (hokhmah), which transcends understanding (binah) and ?knowledge? (da?at), and in which there is vested and concealed the actual light of God? And this precisely is the aspect of the spark of Divinity which exists in every soul of Israel.

The soul of man is a lamp of G?d" (Proverbs 20:27). Just like the flame of the lamp strains upwards, seeking to tear free of the wick and rise heavenward - though this would spell its own demise - so, too, does the G?dly soul in man constantly strive to tear free of the body and the material existence and be nullified within its source in G?d.

The truly humble soul recognizes that its mission in life lies in the pragmatic aspect of Torah, both in studying it for himself and explaining it to others; and in doing acts of material kindness by lending an empathizing mind and counsel from afar regarding household concerns, though the majority, if not all, of these concerns are things of falsehood. For the loftiest beginnings are rooted in the end.

Those who are far from G?d's Torah and His service... one must draw them close with strong cords of love -- perhaps one might succeed in bringing them closer to Torah and the service of G?d. And even if one fails, one has still merited the rewards of the fulfillment of the Mitzvah, "Love your fellow."

What is forbidden, one must not; and what is permitted, one need not.

From a note penned by Rabbi Schneur Zalman shortly before his passing: The truly humble soul recognizes that its mission in life lies in the pragmatic aspect of Torah, both in studying it for himself and explaining it to others; and in doing acts of material kindness by lending an empathizing mind and counsel from afar regarding household concerns, though the majority, if not all, of these concerns are things of falsehood. For the loftiest beginnings are rooted in the end.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman's disciples would say: Our Rebbe revives the dead. What is a corpse? Something cold and unfeeling. Life is movement, warmth, excitement. Is there anything as frozen in self-absorption, as cold and unfeeling as the mind? And when the cold-blooded mind understands, comprehends, and is excited by a G‑dly idea - is this not a revival of the dead?

It is stated in the sacred Zohar that "When the tzaddik departs he is to be found in all worlds more than in his lifetime." Now this needs to be understood. For, granted that he is to be found increasingly in the supernal worlds, because he ascends to there; but how can he be found more in this world? ... This can be explained based on [the maxim] that the life of a tzaddik is not a physical life but a spiritual life, consisting wholly of faith, awe, and love of G‑d... While the tzaddik was alive on earth, these three qualities were contained in their physical vessel and garment (i.e. the body) on the plane of physical space... All his disciples receive but a reflection of these attributes, a ray radiating beyond this vessel by means of his holy utterances and thoughts... But after his passing... whoever is close to him can receive a [far loftier dimension] of these three qualities, since they are no longer confined within a [material] vessel, nor bounded by physical space... Thus it is very easy for his disciples to receive their part of their master's quintessential spirit, each according to the level of his loving attachment (hitkashrut) and closeness to the tzaddik during his lifetime and after his death.

"And now, Israel: What does the L-rd your G‑d ask of you? Only to fear G‑d" (Deuteronomy 10:12). Regarding this verse, the Talmud asks: "Is fear of G‑d a minor thing?" The answer given is, "Yes, for Moses it is a minor thing." At first glance, this answer is incomprehensible, since the verse says "What does G‑d ask of you" - i.e., every individual Jew! But the explanation is as follows: Each and every soul of the house of Israel contains within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, for he is one of the "seven shepherds" who feed vitality and G‑dliness to the community of the souls of Israel.... Moses is the sum of them all, called the "shepherd of faith" (raaya meheimna) in the sense that he nourishes the community of Israel with the knowledge and recognition of G‑d... So although who is the man who dares presume in his heart to approach and attain even a thousandth part of the level of the faithful shepherd, nevertheless, an infinitesimal fringe and minute particle of his great goodness and light illuminates every Jew in each and every generation.

The life of a tzaddik is not a life of the flesh, but a spiritual life consisting wholly of faith, awe, and love of G‑d.

Following his release from imprisonment on Kislev 19, 5559 (1798), an event which marked the Chassidic movement's decisive victory over its opponents, Rabbi Schneur Zalman sent a letter to his followers. The letter begins by quoting the verse in which Jacob says to G‑d, "I am diminished by all the kindnesses... You have shown Your servant" (Genesis 32:11). "The meaning of this," explains Rabbi Schneur Zalman "is that every kindness bestowed by G‑d upon a person should cause him to be exceedingly humble. For a [Divine] kindness is [an expression of] ... 'His right hand does embrace me' (Song of Songs 2:6) -- G‑d is literally bringing the person close to Himself, far more intensely than before. And the closer a person is to G‑d ... the greater the humility this should evoke in him... This because 'all before Him is as naught' (Zohar), so that the more 'before Him' a person is, the more 'as naught' [does he perceive himself to be].... This is the attribute of Jacob... The very opposite is the case in the contrasting realm of ... kelipah (evil): the greater the kindness shown a person, the more he grows in arrogance and self-satisfaction..." The letter concludes: "Therefore, I come with a great call to all our community regarding the many kindnesses which G‑d has exceedingly shown us: Assume the attribute of Jacob... Do not feel yourselves superior to your brethren (i.e., the opponents of Chassidism); do not give free rein to your mouths regarding them, or hiss at them, G‑d forbid. [I] strictly warn: Make no mention [of our victory]. Only humble your spirits and hearts with the truth of Jacob."

There is love like fire, and there is love like water.

In essence, every mitzvah is as supra-rational as the law of the Red Heifer. It is only that the divine will is revealed to us in varying degrees of rational "garments".

Once, in the early years of his leadership, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi said to his disciples: "One must live with the times." He later explained his meaning: One should live with and experience in one's own life the Torah portion of the week and the specific section of the week's portion which is connected to that day.

During the time that Rabbi Schneur Zalman was imprisoned in Petersburg, one of the czar's ministers asked him to explain the verse (Genesis 3:9) "And G‑d called out to the man and said to him: Where are you?" Did G‑d not know where Adam was? Rabbi Schneur Zalman asked the minister: Do you believe that the Torah is eternal, that its every word applies to every individual, under all conditions, at all times? The minister replied that he did. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was very gratified to hear this, for this was a basic principle of the "subversive" teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the propagation of which was at the heart of the accusations leveled against him. "Where are you?" said Rabbi Schneur Zalman to the minister, "is G‑d's perpetual call to every man. Where are you in the world? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days -- Where are you? What have you accomplished?"

To a disciple who complained of his financial troubles: You speak of what you need, but you say nothing of what you are needed for.

Author Picture
First Name
Shneur
Last Name
Zalman of Liadi
Birth Date
1745
Death Date
1812
Bio

Russian Orthodox Rabbi known as the Baal Ha Tanya, Founder and First Rebbe of Chabad, Author best known for writing Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Tanya and his Siddur Torah, also known as Shneur Zalman Baruchovitch, RaZaSh, Baal HaTanya veha Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe , Admor HaZaken "Old Rebbe", Rabbeinu HaZokein, Rabbeinu HaGodol, the GRaZ, and Rav