Publisher: Kehot Publication Society
Author: Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi
Format: 6" x 9", Hardcover, 554 pages
The Tanya is indispensable to an understanding of the Chasidic movement and the philosophy behind it. More importantly, it offers guidance for every facet of the day-to-day life of a Jew in his or her service to G-d.
The author called his work by three distinct names. Each of these names characterizes the book in its own way. These names are:
I. Likutei Amarim - "Collected Discourses." By this name the author describes his work in his "Compiler's Foreword," thereby humbly disclaiming any originality for his work. In fact the author explicitly states that his treatise constitutes a collection of discourses "which have been selected from books and scribes, heavenly saints, who are renowned among us.” Under this title the book was first published (Slavita, 1796).
2. Tanya, after the initial word of the book, quoting a Baraitic source. The quotation from tannaitic lore serves the author more than as a homiletic introduction to his system. Dealing, as it does, with the mystic descent of the soul and its destiny, it provides the author with a starting point, based in the Talmud; from which to unfold his whole system. Under this title the book appeared for the second time (Zolkiev, 1798), with Likutei Amarim as subtitle.
3. Sefer shel Benonim - "Book of the Intermediates," so called after the type of personality on which the book centers attention, that is, the intermediate type whose moral position is between the tzaddik ("righteous man") and rasha ("wicked man"). Thus the author pointedly indicates that his primary concern is not with the tzaddik, upon whose veneration general Chassidut had placed so much emphasis, nor with the rasha, upon whose condemnation much has been said in other Jewish ethical works, but with the benoni, the "intermediate" man, whose rank is within reach of every person. The name Sefer shel Benonim appeared as a subtitle in the first edition ("Likutei Amarim, Part One, called Sefer shel Benonim"). However, actually the author often refers to the whole book, and not merely its first part, when using the title Sefer shel Benonim.
The standard complete editions of this work include the following five parts, each of which is an independent treatise:
Part I: Likutei Amarim, or Tanya, or Sefer shel Benonim, proper, comprising a Foreword and fifty-three chapters.
Part II: Sha'ar ha-Yichud veha-Emunah ("Portal of Unity and Belief"), with a Foreword and twelve chapters.
Part III: lgeret ha-Teshuvah ("Epistle of Repentance"), with twelve chapters.
Part IV: lgeret ha-Kodesh ("Sacred Epistle"), with thirty-two sections.
Part V: Kuntress Acharon ("Latest Treatise").
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