“I Wrote Down and Gave Over My Soul”

Likkutei Sichos needs no introduction. It is a collection of talks gleaned from the Rebbe’s farbrengens which was prepared for publication by an editorial board. Before publication, the texts were edited and reedited by the Rebbe himself.

On several occasions, the Rebbe quotes1 the teaching2 that the word Anochi is an acronym for the Aramaic words meaning: “I wrote down and gave over My soul,” i.e., that G‑d invested Himself in the Torah. And the Rebbe explains that since “the righteous resemble their Creator,”3 a righteous man invests himself in the Torah teachings which he has authored.

In this light, the study of Likkutei Sichos is not merely an attempt to receive the Rebbe’s guidance, it is a process of hiskashrus in which a chassid bonds himself to the Rebbe.

Keeping Ourselves Anchored

The intent of this translation is to present the Rebbe’s words and not an adaptaion or interpretation of them.

Even with this intent, we realize that every translation is an interpretation. For the process of rendering a text into another language will of necessity involve changing the order of the wording and substituting certain phrases and idioms for others. Also, we made certain additions including placing subtitles before each of the sections into which the sichah was originally divided and supplementing the text with added references and footnotes. Nevertheless, painstaking effort on the part of our team was made to insure that this process did not represent a deviation from the Rebbe’s words, and that the voice which resounds through these words is that of the Rebbe.

Working as a Team

The effort to present the Rebbe’s teachings in a manner that does justice to the original required a team effort. In translation, each person must sacrifice a certain measure of his individuality in the effort to present the Rebbe’s words as they are.

The full list of all those who contributed is too long to mention, but notice should be made of the following: Eliyahu Touger who was responsible for the translation, Gershom Gale who did the editing, Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin who annotated the sources and checked the authenticity of the translation, Yosef Yitzchok Turner who provided the layout and topography, Uri Kaploun who was always available for counsel and direction, and Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English, who supervised every phase of the project’s development.

Proceeding Together

There is a certain drawback to the process of translation. For in the process of remaining true to the original source, one can sacrifice one’s own creative initiative. This is not, however, an absolute necessity. To refer to a well-known story: Once the Alter Rebbe told the Tzemach Tzedek that he desired to grant him all the wisdom he had attained as a gift. The Tzemach Tzedek demurred, explaining that he preferred to attain knowledge through his own labor and effort. Afterwards, he regretted his decision. He could have, he explained, accepted the Alter Rebbe’s gift, and then used his effort and initiative to proceed to even higher peaks.

Similar concepts apply to this translation. By translating the Rebbe’s teachings, we provided a base of knowledge and an outline of principles and values. The process should not end there. Instead and this is our hope every individual should use the Rebbe’s words as a springboard for growth, and adapt the teachings to his own life and situation.

Extending these concepts further, a parallel to this motif can be seen in our present situation as a whole. The Rebbe has pointed out to us the goal towards which our efforts should be directed: the geulah, our people’s Redemption.

May the study of the Rebbe’s teachings encourage us all to take our part in shouldering the mission of spiritual purpose which the Rebbe taught us. And may this in turn lead to overtly apparent good and blessing, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption, and the fulfillment of the prophecy,4 “And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing,” with the Rebbe at our head “and he will redeem us.”

Sichos In English

Rosh Chodesh Shvat, 5756