Groundbreaking Trove of the Rebbe’s Teachings Released Online
As any serious scholar can attest, the Torah output of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—is breathtaking in scope, variety and depth.
Among the multi-volume series that house much of the Rebbe’s teachings, Likkutei Sichos has a place of its own. It’s a vast collection of the Rebbe’s Torah teachings, each one personally edited by the Rebbe and then published as Hebrew or Yiddish weekly essays over more than two decades.
The essays were later published in 39 volumes, named simply Likkutei Sichos (“Collection of Talks”). Described as the heart and soul of the Rebbe’s teachings, they present a unique fusion of all elements of Torah, from the exoteric to the esoteric, and a key to grasping the Rebbe’s view on Judaism and life itself.
Many of these talks were subsequently reworked into essays, such as those that appear on Chabad.org, in a plethora of languages. However, the original texts, edited by the Rebbe, were long seen as a “closed book” for those unschooled in Yiddish and Hebrew.
It was the start of an ambitious new project, to select several essays for each week of the year as well as for each holiday and present an accessible English translation alongside the Yiddish or Hebrew original.
In addition to merely translating the text, the team of scholars also translated the original footnotes, many of which are scholarly dissertations of their own, and added interpolated explanation and footnotes to further aid students.
The work, which is revolutionary in its approach, was also released online on Chabad.org, so that the wider public could take full advantage and gain access to this important work.
This week, the essays on the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers)—the fourth volume in this series—have been published online, allowing students of all backgrounds to delve into the Rebbe’s teaching on the weekly Torah portion for the next several months, when we read through the Book of Bamidbar every Shabbat.
“We are excited for our readers to have this opportunity,” says Rabbi Meir Simcha Kogan, director of Chabad.org, “and grateful to Sichos In English for their steadfast dedication to the ideal of sharing the Rebbe’s teachings as widely as possible.”
The project was spearheaded by Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, the founding director of Sichos in English, who passed away at the age of 61 in 2019. It was brought to print by his son, Rabbi Shmuly Avtzon, who now leads the publishing house.
“Publishing Sichos, talks of the Rebbe, is central to our mission,” says Avtzon. “In Likkutei Sichos, the Sichos have a rich structure and depth of scholarship that does not always come through in other renderings. To learn Likkutei Sichos in the original allows a person to really experience the teachings of the Rebbe in a whole different way.”