תּוֹרָה אוֹר נִדְפַּס לָרִאשׁוֹנָה בִּשְׁנַת תקצ"ז בְּקָאפּוּסט (בְּלִי הַהוֹסָפוֹת). הַצֶּמַח צֶדֶק בְּמִכְתָּבוֹ מִיּוֹם ג' שְׁבָט תקצ"ז כּוֹתֵב: סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אוֹר הַנִּדְפָּס עַתָּה... בּוֹ מַאֲמָרִים רוֹב הַדְּרוּשִׁים שֶׁמִּשְּׁנַת תקנ"ו עַד סוֹף תקע"ב, אֲשֶׁר הַרְבֵּה מֵהֶם שָׂם רַבֵּנוּ ז"ל בְּעַצְמוֹ עֵין עִיּוּנוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם וְהִגִּיהָם, וְהִסְכִּימָה דַּעְתּוֹ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה לְהָבִיאָם לְבֵית הַדְּפוּס. וְהַסֵּפֶר כּוֹלֵל שְׁנֵי חֲלָקִים, חֵלֶק הָרִאשׁוֹן עַל שְׁנֵי חוּמְשֵׁי הַתּוֹרָה וַחֲנוּכָּה וּפוּרִים גַּם כַּמָּה דְרוּשִׁים לְחַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת זְמַן מַתַּן תּוֹרָה בְּפָרָשַׁת יִתְרוֹ וּקְצָת לְפֶסַח בְּפָרָשַׁת וַיַּקְהֵל. וְחֵלֶק הַשֵּׁנִי, אִם יִרְצֶה ה', עַל ג' חוּמְשֵׁי הַתּוֹרָה וְשִׁיר הַשִׁירִים וּמוֹעֲדִים וְרֹאשׁ הַשָׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים... וְשֵׁם הַמְּחַבֵּר נָאֶה לוֹ שְׁנֵיאוֹר כְּמוֹ וְאָהַבְתָּ בְּגִימַטְרִיָּא ב' פְּעָמִים אוֹר... עַד כַּאן לְשׁוֹנוֹ.

לֹא הִסְפִּיקוּ לְהַדְפִּיס רַק חֵלֶק הָרִאשׁוֹן, כִּי עַל יְדֵי מַלְשִׁינוּת סָגְרָה הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה כַּמָּה מִבָּתֵּי הַדְּפוּס הָעִבְרִים בְּרוּסְיָה, וּבֵינֵיהֶם גַּם בֵּית הַדְּפוּס בְּקָאפּוּסט אֲשֶׁר שָׁם הִדְפִּיסוּ הַתּוֹרָה אוֹר. בִּשְׁנַת תר"ח נִדְפַּס חֵלֶק בּ' בְּזִיטָאמִיר וּבְשִׁנּוּי הַשֵּׁם “לִקּוּטֵי תּוֹרָה".

Torah Or was first published in 5597 (1837) in Kopust, without its appendices. In a letter of 3 Shvat of that year the Tzemach Tzedek writes:1 “Torah Or, which was published now…, includes most of the maamarim that the Alter Rebbe delivered between 5556 (1795) and the end of 5572 (1812). Many of them were critically read and edited by our master himself, and he gave his consent for their publication.2

“This work comprises two parts. The first part [includes maamarim] on the first two Chumashim [i.e., Bereishis and Shmos]; on Chanukah and Purim; some maamarim on Shavuos, the season of the Giving of the Torah, are included in Parshas Yisro; and a few on Pesach, in Parshas Vayakhel. With G‑d’s help, the second part [will include maamarim] on [the last] three Chumashim [i.e., Vayikra, Bamidbar, and Devarim]; on Shir HaShirim; on the festivals;3 and on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur….

“The name of the author, Shneur,4 befits him, just as ואהבת (‘And you shall love’) is twice the numerical equivalent of אור (‘light’).”5

At the time they managed to publish only the first volume, for due to the allegations of informers, the government closed several Jewish printing houses in Russia, including the one in Kopust, where Torah Or was printed. In 5608 (1848), the second volume was printed in Zhitomir — but with a different title: Likkutei Torah.6

Living as a Chassid

As the Rebbe would often say, just as there is an obligation to be maavir sedrah, i.e., to study the weekly Torah reading, so, too, chassidim should also study the chassidishe parshahthe maamarim in Torah Or or Likkutei Torah that relate to the current week’s Torah reading.7

These seminal maamarim, which serve as the basis for many of the discourses delivered by the Rebbeim of subsequent generations, open our eyes to the spiritual motifs that operate beneath the surface of the weekly Torah readings.