<I>Tanya,</I> the Masterpiece of Hasidic Wisdom: Selections Annotated & Explained

Presents the core teachings of Tanya, with insightful commentary that will deepen your understanding of the soul and how it relates to and manifests the Divine Source from which all life comes, in which all life lives and to which all life returns.

Translation and annotation by Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Foreword by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

5½ x 8½, 240 pp | 978-1-59473-275-1

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The wisdom of Jewish spirituality and mysticism can be a companion for your own spiritual journey.

Tanya, “It Was Taught,” is one of the most powerful and potentially transformative books of Jewish wisdom. Written in 1797 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Hasidism, Tanya sets forth the fundamentals of Jewish spirituality and mysticism. While a focus of daily study by tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews, Tanya is little known outside the world of Jewish mysticism. Until now, its kabbalistic terms and esoteric language have made this essential text of Jewish spirituality inaccessible to most readers.

In this engaging volume, Rabbi Rami Shapiro offers a contemporary English translation of key selections of Tanya coupled with commentary designed to clarify and amplify the wisdom it contains. He also outlines the philosophical and spiritual framework on which Tanya is based—God’s nonduality; the five dimensions of reality and their corresponding intelligences (body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit); the purpose of mitzvot, the practices of Jewish life, as catalysts to God realization and the hallowing of all life through godliness—to help you understand the selected Tanya translations in a way that enhances your own spiritual development.

Now you can benefit from the wisdom of Tanya even if you have no previous knowledge of Judaism or Hebrew terminology. This SkyLight Illuminations edition presents the core teachings of Tanya, with insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that will deepen your understanding of the soul and how it relates to and manifests the Divine Source from which all life comes, in which all life lives and to which all life returns.

“Rami Shapiro is one of the great Jewish spiritual teachers of our generation. This volume opens one of the all-time classics of Jewish spirituality for beginning students of all faiths. Through his poetic translations and paraphrases, he not only unlocks Tanya but also adds a classic of his own to our library of personal yearning.”      

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Emanu-El Scholar, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco; author, The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition and other books

“Thoroughly accessible and attractive.”      

CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

“Judicious.... Should be a help to the beginner and more advanced student alike; it is not just a translation, but a guide to timeless and universal ideas.”      

Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

“Demonstrates deep understandings of rabbinic thought, theology, philosophy, and psychology.”      

Jewish Book World

“An excellent starting point for anyone wishing ... to fully understand the meaning and guided practices of this monumental work.”      

San Diego Jewish World

 “A masterful unfolding of Tanya … paves a way for readers to find a path to God that is a ‘returning through kindness.’ I can’t ever imagine teaching Tanya again without pointing toward this edition.”

Reb Mimi Feigelson, mashpiah ruchanit (spiritual mentor); lecturer of Rabbinics, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University

 “With insight and nuance ... opens the mystical wisdom of Hasidism to spiritual seekers of all faiths. Both the translation and the commentary guide the reader to a transformed religious consciousness.”      

 —Dr. Eitan Fishbane, author, As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist

Foreword ix
Preface xvii
Introduction xix
Key Philosophical Ideas xxxiii
Core Spiritual Practices xliii

1. The Five Kinds of Humans 3
2. God, Wisdom, and Your Essential Nature 7
3. The Three Mothers: Wisdom, Reason, and Knowing 11
4. The Three Garments: Thought, Word, and Deed 13
5. Unity Beyond Thought 17
6. The Necessity of Opposites 21
7. Using the Body for Good 23
8. Using the Body for Evil 27
9. The Secret Yearning for the Good 31
10. The Purpose of Transformation 35
11. Redemption from Evil 39
12. Bringing Light into the Darkness 43
13. Internal Conflict 47
14. Becoming an Inbetweener 49
15. Serving God 51
16. The Essential Task 55
17. The Practice of Comprehension 57
18. The Nature of Wisdom 61
19. The Candle of God 65
20. The Unchanging One 69
21. God's Speech 71
22. Other Gods 73
23. Torah and God Are One 75
24. The Interplay of Opposites 77
25. Folly 79
26. The Profit of Sadness 81
27. Passive Restraint 85
28. Distracting Thoughts 89
29. A Dull Heart 93
30. Cultivating Humility 97
31. Working with Sadness 99
32. Love Your Neighbor 103
33. Attaining True Joy 105
34 Generosity 109
35. The Task of Self 111
36. No High or Low in God 113
37. Illuminating the World 117
38. The Necessity of Intent 119
39. Acting without Ulterior Motive 121
40. Revealing the Hidden God 125
41. Love and Awe 129
42. Your Inner "Moses" 133
43. Two Types of Awe 137
44. Higher Grades of Love 139
45. Compassion for God 143
46. Way of Friendship 147
47. Release from Bondage 149
48. The Finite and the Infinite 153
49. The Purpose of Creation 155
50. Run and Return 157
51. The Dwelling of God 161
52. Perceiving the One 163
53. The One Is within You 165

Notes 167
Glossary of Hebrew Terms 168
Books Cited in Tanya 173
Suggestions for Further Reading 177