Tanya: The name Tanya versus Sefer Shel Beinonim and Likkutei Amorim

1. The name of the Sefer:[1]

  • General name of all five volumes: The general name of all five volumes of Tanya is “Likkutei Amarim,” which means a compilation of teachings. [This title is used in many other areas of teachings of Admur, including Igeres Hateshuvah, Siddur Im Dach, and in Igeres Hakodesh.[2]]
    • A deeper look: With this title of “Likkutei”, the Alter Rebbe emphasizes that he has written nothing novel in his Sefer which is of his own discovery, but that rather it is a collection of teachings from his predecessors.[3] Likewise, the term “Emorim” which means “sayings”, in contrast to Torah’s which can refer to written teachings, emphasizes that the Sefer is a collection of oral directives, as indeed the Sefer Tanya is a collection of directives that the Alter Rebbe told people in Yechidus.[4]
  • Name of first volume: The name of the first volume of the Sefer Likkutei Emorim is “Sefer Shel Beinonim,” which means the book of Intermediates. [The name of the second volume is “Shaar Hayichud Vihaemuna.” The original print of Tanya in 1797 only included these two volumes. To note, that in majority of places in Likkutei Torah, the entire book of Tanya with all its volumes is referred to by this title of Sefer Shel Beinonim, or just Beinonim, and not just the first volume.[5]]
    • A deeper look: Tradition has it that the Alter Rebbe originally wrote a previous book called “Sefer Shel Tzadikim,” a book for the righteous.[6] This book however was too much for the world, and not on the level of the populace to relate to, and it therefore never made it to print, and was consumed in a fire. He thus wrote a new Title, named Sefer Shel Beinonim, which relates to the level of service of G-d that all people can strive to achieve and stand by.[7]

The name Tanya:[8]

Interestingly, despite that the Alter Rebbe named the title of his Sefer as “Likkutei Emorim” and “Sefer Shel Beinonim,” it is not popularly known by these names and rather it is referred to as the book of Tanya by the populace. People began referring to this book by the name Tanya already in the times of the Alter Rebbe, and it was referred to by this name prior to the official publication of the Sefer, when it was first printed as individual booklets. In fact, in the second publication of the Sefer in Romania, which was not printed by the Alter Rebbe, it was officially published under the title “Tanya Kadisha.”[9] It is also referred to by this name in many places in Torah Or and Likkutei Torah. The simple explanation behind this name given to it by the populace, is that it follows the opening words of the first chapter “Tanya[10] Besof Perek Gimel Denidah.” The deeper and more mystical explanation behind this word and title “Tanya” is because through the study of this Sefer one can nullify the evil force name “Tanya,” which is an evil spirit which tries to dissuade people from studying the inner dimensions of the Torah.[11]

Other names:

1.      Kuntreisim [Known by this name prior to publication]


[1] See Tanya Mevueres pp. 4 and 466

[2] Tanya Mevueres p. 466

[3] Shiurim Besefer Hatnya Daf Hashaar

[4] Likkutei Dibburim 1 p. 70

[5] See Tanya Mevueres p. 5 footnote 9

[6] See Sefer Hasichos 5722, Parshas Mikeitz; Kisvei Rav Beichovsky p. 128; Reshimos of Rebbe; Tanya Mevueres footnote 1

[7] As the Alter Rebbe writes in chapter 14 “A Beinoni is the attribute of every man, and is what every person should strive for.”

[8] See Beis Rebbe p. 106; Tanya Mevueres p. 18

[9] Also in the printing in Zalokvoy in 1799 it was named “Likkutei Emorim which is called Tanya Kadisha”

[10] See Beis Rebbe ibid that the main Girsa in Nida 30a is “Derasha Rebbe Simlaiy” and not “Tanya,” and nonetheless the Alter Rebbe chose this rare Girsa of Tanya.

[11] Beis Rebbe ibid in name of Tzemach Tzedek

Regarding this Kelipa called Tanya: See Kisvei Arizal on Pirush on the Idra of Zohar Parshas Nasso; Or Haganuz 2:19; Sefer Sur Meira Viasei Tov in name of Vayakhel Moshe

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