Not Your Grandfather’s Tanya

Recently, as I read through the famous work, Sh’ney Luchoth haB’rith (aka Shla”h) by the saintly Rabbi Isaiah (haLevi) Horowitz, of blessed memory, I saw that the author cited a source called Tanya. Now there is a very famous work known as Tanya written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe. This confused me. I had been under the impression that the Shla”h predated the Chasidic Movement (of which Lubavitch chasidim are a part), and that in fact Chasidic philosophy had drawn greatly from the teachings of the Shla”h. Seeing the Shla”h cite Tanya, a later source, didn’t make sense to me. What was I missing? Was I mistaken in my knowledge of history?

A quick perusal of Wikipedia yielded that in fact the Shla”h did live and die before Rabbi Shneur Zalman was born, which would certainly make a citation in the Shla”h of Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s work anachronistic. Which lead me to one of two conclusions. Either the Shla”h as it is printed is not authentic and has been tampered with by later individuals, or there is an earlier work called Tanya that predates Rabbi Shneur Zalman and the Shla”h.

So, I hopped on over to and searched תניא (“Tanya”) and found that is indeed more than one Tanya. In addition to the famous Tanya of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, there is also an earlier work called Tanya by a 13th century scholar, Rabbi Yechiel ben Yekuthiel of Rome. I have undertaken to peruse this volume a bit, and I intend to report back with any interesting discoveries.


3 thoughts on “Not Your Grandfather’s Tanya

      1. Ironically, the Shla”h incorporates both mystical thought and Jewish law into his work. The Shla”h draws from the ealier Tanya, a work of Jewish law, while the later Tanya draws from the Shla”h, a work of mystical thought.

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