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Shneur Zalman of Liady

(1745—1813)


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Hasidic master (1745–1813), founder of the Habad school in Hasidism. Shneur Zalman (the name Shneur probably comes from ‘Señor’, suggesting that the family came originally from Spain) was born in the Belorussian town of Liozno, near Vitebsk. He married at an early age and, with the approval of his young wife but against the wishes of both his father and father-in-law who were suspicious of the new trends, he resolved to journey to Dov Baer of Mezhirech, disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and organizer of the Hasidic movement, in order to learn, as he said, how to pray.

Shneur Zalman's Tanya (so-called after its opening word in Aramaic, Tanya, ‘It was taught’) is a systematic treatment of Kabbalistic and Hasidic themes in the Habad interpretation. The work, in its complete form, was published in Shklov in 1814 since when it has gone into numerous editions. Lubavitch Hasidim often place their copy of the Tanya in the bag in which they keep their tallit and treat the work with a veneration that appears to the non-Hasid to be bordering on the bizarre.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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