- Question: [Tuesday, 14th Teves 5781]
I only have a certain amount of time in my schedule for learning Chassidus and wanted to know what has priority, learning Likkutei Sichos of the Rebbe, or learning Torah of the Alter Rebbe? Also, on Shabbos between Mincha and Maariv and prior to Shacharis, should I learn Torah Or or Likkutei Sichos?
If your intent is to study Chassidus, then certainly learning Torah Or takes precedence over learning a Sicha in Nigleh, which is the content of many of the talks in Likkutei Sichos. However, if the chosen Sicha is also in matters of Chassidus, of which there are many as well, then in general Hassidim are accustomed to preceding the learning of the texts of their personal Rebbe, as aside for the more emotional connection [i.e. Hiskashrus] that they feel with their personal Rebbe, it also usually contains directives more relevant to them and their challenges being that it deals with issues of this generation. Nonetheless, seemingly this was not the Rebbe’s personal view, as the Rebbe stated in a public talk in 1971 that he was going to stop publishing Likkutei Sichos for that year and one of the reasons is because he saw that the Hasidim were studying it instead of studying the works of Torah Or and Likkutei Torah, and that the intent of the Likkutei Sichos was to be in addition to the regular studies of Torah Or and Likkutei Torah and not instead of them. Accordingly, the Rebbe is encouraging the Hasidim to make the weekly study of the Chassidishe Parsha from Torah Or and Likkutei Torah of more importance than the study of Likkutei Sichos, and it should be secondary regarding the weekly learning for the Parsha. In the Rebbes words from that talk of Simchas Torah: “I already discussed before that in the past the custom was that on Shabbos, they would learn Torah Or/Likkutei Torah, or other discourses relevant to that week’s portion. However, from the time that the Likkutei Sichos have been printed it has become the main subject of learning of the week as being that he is a Shpitz Chabad he claims that since it was printed that week this is a sign that this is the main subject of learning of the week and he thinks throughout the entire week that since he needs to learn the Likkutei Sichos therefore he is now exempt from learning Torah Or/Likkutei Torah… Therefore, since we are now beginning a new year from now on everyone should learn the discourses in Torah Or/Likkutei Torah and the other discourses that begin with verses of the weekly portion, and they should learn it in depth.”
Practically, a Chassid needs to invest time to studying both subjects weekly, and regarding what to learn between Mincha and Maariv and before Davening, it can be a subject of Chassidus, whether from Torah Or or Likkutei Sichos, although in general the old age Chabad tradition is to designate these times were studying Torah Or and Likkutei Torah.