Publisher’s Foreword

One of the unique aspects of Chassidus is that it generates the potential to see any incident in a larger scope. An idea is thus appreciated, not only for its individual message, but as a part of a more inclusive whole.

The Rebbe Shlita gave expression to this quality in his sichos on Shabbos Parshas Eikev. He focused on a unique development, the publication of the Tanya in Braille, emphasizing the important breakthrough it represented — bringing the teachings of Chassidus to people who had never previously had the opportunity to taste this spiritual knowledge independently.

Nevertheless, beyond this important dimension, this development can be seen as part of a process of yet greater scope — as both a foretaste of, and a catalyst for, the coming of the Era of the Redemption. Accordingly, the Rebbe encourages us here to continue this pattern, to “live with the Redemption,” to conduct ourselves in its spirit, and in this manner, to precipitate its coming even sooner.

13 Elul, 5751 [August 23, 1991]

Spreading the Wellsprings Outward

Recently, a new printing of the Tanya was brought to this building, the Previous Rebbe’s shul and House of Study — an event which is noteworthy in its own right, and of even greater significance when viewed as part of a cosmic canvas.

The Tanya, which has been described as “the Written Torah of Chassidus,1 has been reprinted many thousands of times all over the world. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the coming of Mashiach is dependent on “the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.”2 Ultimately, in the Era of the Redemption, “the knowledge of G‑d will fill the earth as the waters cover the ocean bed.”3 And to prepare for this revelation, it is necessary to spread G‑dly knowledge, the teachings of Chassidus, throughout the world at large. When seen in this context, the printing of the Tanya in so many different cities is significant, for it has transformed them into “wellsprings”, centers and sources for the spreading of Chassidus.4

Windows for the Soul

The new printing of the Tanya mentioned above is unique, however, for it represents the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus to a group of people who had previously had no potential to study these teachings unaided. For this Tanya was printed in Braille.

In recent generations, Chassidus has been explained in ever-increasing depth and breadth, and these explanations have been communicated to people from different backgrounds and walks of life in many languages. Unfortunately, however, the physical handicap of the blind prevented them — until now — from reading these texts independently.

The significance of this printing is magnified by the fact that, as mentioned above, the Tanya is known as “the Written Torah of Chassidus.” Just as the Written Torah includes the entire Oral Law, for “there is no teaching which is not alluded to in the Torah,”5 so too, the Tanya includes in seminal form all the teachings of Chassidus revealed in later generations.6 In this sense, this Tanya makes the totality of the teachings of Chassidus accessible.

The Ultimate Purpose of Sight

There is an intrinsic connection between the blind and the study of Chassidus. The medium in which pnimiyus HaTorah is revealed in the present age, Chassidus, is known as7 “the Light of the Torah.” Similarly, in Lashon HaKodesh, “the holy tongue,” it is common to describe the blind by the euphemism sagi nahor, which means “of great light.” And indeed, historically, there is a connection between the two. One of the great sages of the Kabbalistic tradition, Rabbi Yitzchak Sagi Nahor,8 was blind.

There is also a connection between the blind and the Future Redemption, because in that era the dimension they possess which is associated with “great light” will be revealed. At that time, G‑d will heal the entire world and the blind will be healed first.9

(The significance of the blind becoming sighted is also connected to the revelation of the “knowledge of G‑d” in the Era of Redemption. Mashiach will teach the people using the power of sight10 and thus, this faculty will be necessary to appreciate the new dimensions of Torah knowledge that will be revealed at that time.)

Moreover, the study of the Tanya by the blind will hasten the advent of this era, for this represents the opening of an entirely new sphere in the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus. And in this context, we can appreciate the greater significance of this printing.

Making Accounts: Mashiach’s Coming is Past Due

Mashiach’s coming is long overdue; “All the appointed times for the Redemption have past.”11 Furthermore, from the perspective of the Jewish people, we have already completed the spiritual service demanded of us. To borrow a phrase from the Previous Rebbe, “We have even polished the buttons,”12 for the teachings of Chassidus have been presented in a manner in which they are accessible to every Jew.

The printing of the Tanya in Braille thus reflects the nature of the spiritual service required in the present age — making the teachings of Chassidus accessible to others who for various reasons have not yet been exposed to them. And in doing so, there must be a consciousness that these teachings are a foretaste of the revelation of “the knowledge of G‑d” in the Era of the Redemption. Moreover, a study of these teachings will lead to that revelation. In this manner, studying Chassidus reflects our efforts to “live with the Redemption,” and make the Redemption an active force in our daily conduct.

The above concepts are particularly relevant in the present month, the month of Elul, when it is customary to review and take stock of our spiritual service in the previous year, and in this manner, prepare for the new year to come. This stocktaking should also focus on the imminence of the Redemption and on our efforts to make the Redemption an actual reality.

Catalysts for the Redemption

A Jew has the potential to arouse himself, to arouse others, and to arouse G‑d, Himself, as it were. According to all the signs given by our Sages,13 and definitely in the light of the miracles which we have witnessed recently, the ultimate Redemption should have come already, and in this present year. For the miracles described in the Yalkut Shimoni14 are to take place in “the year in which the King Mashiach will be revealed.”

We must cry out Ad Masai! — “Until when must we remain in exile?” And furthermore, this outcry must be coupled with actions that grant us a foretaste of — and thus precipitate — the Era of the Redemption.

And these efforts will doubtless bear fruit, particularly in the present time. The month of Elul is a time when G‑d accepts the requests and grants the wishes of the Jewish people. And surely this is an appropriate time for Him to grant our truest and most essential wish — that the Redemption come about immediately.

An Adaptation of an Address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe שליט"א
on Shabbos Parshas Eikev, 5751