CHASSIDUS IN BRAILLE:
Lighting Up the Path to the Redemption
An(1) Adaptation of an Address of the Rebbe,
on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751/1991
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 also as a part of a more inclusive whole.
The Rebbe gave expression to this quality in his sichos (talks) on
Shabbat Parshat Eikev. He focused on a unique development: the publication
of the Tanya in [Hebrew] 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
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.
* * *
Spreading the Wellsprings
Recently, a new printing of the Tanya was brought to this building,
the Previous Rebbe's shul and House of Study, an event that 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,"(2) has been reprinted many thousands
of times all over the world. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the coming
of Moshiach is dependent on "the spreading of the wellsprings of
Chassidus outward."(3) Ultimately, in the Era of
the Redemption, "the knowledge of G-d will fill the earth as the waters cover
the ocean bed."(4) 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
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 the 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,"(6) so,
too, the Tanya includes in seminal form all the teachings of
Chassidus revealed in later generations.(7) In this
sense, this Tanya makes the totality of the teachings of Chassidus
The Ultimate Purpose of
There is an intrinsic connection between the blind and the study of
Chassidus. Chassidus--the medium in which pnimiyus HaTorah
(the inner dimensions of Torah) is revealed in the present age--is
known as(8) "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 Yitzchok Sagi
Nahor,(9) 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.(10)
(The significance of the blind becoming sighted is also connected to the
revelation of the "knowledge of G-d" in the Era of Redemption. Moshiach will
teach the people, using the power of sight(11) 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.
Moshiach's Coming is Past Due
Moshiach's coming is long overdue; "All the appointed times for the Redemption
have passed."(12) 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,"(13) 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
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,(14) 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
Shimoni(15) are to take place in "the year in which
the King Moshiach 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.
1. Adapted from the book, Sound the Great Shofar (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot
Publication Society, 1992).
2. Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Previous Rebbe, vol. IV, p. 261ff.
3. For the relevant sources see footnotes 12, 13 and 14 to the above Overview.
4. Yeshayahu 11:9, quoted by the Rambam at the conclusion of
his discussion of the Era of the Redemption in the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos
5. See sichah of Parshas Bo, 5744, and the essay, "The Printing
of Tanya," in Sichos In English, vol. XIX, pp. 113-119.
6. Zohar III, 221a.
7. Furthermore, the final portion of the Tanya, Kuntres Acharon,
is an explanation of certain passages found in the previous four portions
of the Tanya. In this it resembles the Oral Law, which is an explanation
of the Written Law. Indeed, there is a close similarity between this fifth
portion of the Tanya and the Book of Devarim, which is called
Mishneh Torah, a restatement of the Torah, and thus shares a connection
with the Oral Law.
8. See Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7, and commentary of Korban
9. See Shmos HaGedolim and also Recanati, Parshas
10. Midrash Tehillim 146; see also Yeshayahu 35:5 and
Bereishis Rabbah 95:1.
11. See Likkutei Torah, Tzav 17 a, b.
12. Sanhedrin 97b.
13. Sichah of Simchat Torah, 5689/1928.
14. See the conclusion of Tractate Kesubbos.
15. Vol. II, sec. 499, commenting on Yeshayahu 60:1, with reference
to events having worldwide repercussions in the Persian Gulf.