Monday, December 19, 2005

Yud Tes Kislev

Tomorrow (Tuesday 20 December) is 19 Kislev - the day the Alter Rebbe was released from prison in 1798 in Czarist Russia - and marks the beginning of the spreading of Chassidus in a revealed way. This day also marks the passing of the Maggid of Mezeritch - the Alter Rebbe's teacher and mentor.

According to Chabad custom we start the yearly cycle of learning Tanya on 19 Kislev and this day is considered the Rosh Hashana of Chassidus.

Some excerpts of an article from regarding the Alter Rebbe and Yud Tes Kislev:

The public dissemination of teachings of Chassidism had in fact begun two generations earlier. The founder of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), revealed to his disciples gleanings from the mystical soul of Torah which had previously been the sole province of select Kabbalists in each generation. This work was continued by the Baal Shem Tov's disciple, Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezeritch"--who is also deeply connected with the date of "Kislev 19": on this day in 1772, 36 years before Rabbi Schneur Zalman's release from prison, the Maggid returned his soul to his Maker. Before his passing, he said to his disciple, Rabbi Scneur Zalman: "this day is our yomtov (festival)."

In the fall of 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalman was arrested on charges that his teachings and activities threatened the imperial authority of the Czar, and was imprisoned in an island fortress in the Neva River in Petersburg.

After 52 days, he was exonerated of all charges and released.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman saw these events as a reflection of what was transpiring above. He regarded his arrest as but the earthly echo of a Heavenly indictment against his revelation of the most intimate secrets of the Torah. And he saw his release as signifying his vindication in the Heavenly court.

Kislev 19 therefore marks the "birth" of Chassidism: the point at which it was allowed to emerge from the womb of "mysticism" into the light of day, to grow and develop as an integral part of Torah and Jewish life.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes in the preface to his Commentary on Tanya about the significance of the Tanya here.

More information about the Tanya can be found here on the Lessons in Tanya website. Follow the links on this site to download Tanya shiurim mp3 format presented by Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski.

Another informative site presents ma'amarim in Likutei Torah in English by Yitzchok D Wagshal. See them here.

Good Yom Tov!!