Born Out of Tragedy – The Tanya Came Into My Life

The juxtaposition this year of the secular date of November 26 marking the 10th anniversary of the murder of Gavriel (Gabi) and Rivky Holtzberg, beloved directors of Chabad of Mumbai, and the start of the Hebrew day of 19th of Kislev, the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism holds special significance for me. It symbolizes my 10th anniversary of learning the Tanya – the seminal work of Rabbi Schneur Zalman Boruchovitch of Liadi, also known as the “Alter Rebbe”, whose liberation is being celebrated as a Yom Tov today and tomorrow, 19th and 20th of Kislev.

Ten years ago, as a means of answering the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s call to answer every tragedy with good deeds, I started learning Tanya, and it has transformed my life.

What is Tanya? The Tanya compacts four millennia of Jewish wisdom to answer the great personal and existential questions of life. It has revolutionized the way we think about G‑d, the human soul, the world and our place in it.

Why the Alter Rebbe Wrote Tanya

The Alter Rebbe’s decision to write a book that would serve as a practical guide for life is described by Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon z”l in the short video here.

Take a Leap of Faith – Start Tanya today

The new cycle for the study of Tanya is today, and as an enthusiastic devotee of Tanya, I want to share my discovery with the readers. As Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz states in his book “Opening the Tanya”, “the more one reads this book, the more one discovers illuminating thoughts and ideas, a comprehensive outlook on life, insight into the structure of Jewish history, and moral guidance on countless problems.”

It is so easy to start, and all online- reading, listening and/or watching a daily lesson using either website:

Lessons in Tanya

Daily Study Tanya

To me, studying Tanya gives me a compass to keep my own life on track, and a place to search for answers to the haunting question raised by the Alter Rebbe in response to one of the Rebbe’s interrogators  during his period of incarceration:

“Where are you?’” explained the Rebbe, “is G‑d’s perpetual call to every man. Where are you in the world? What have you accomplished? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days,”—here Rabbi Schneur Zalman spelled out the exact age of the minister—“Where are you? What have you achieved?”

For me, the catalyst for learning Tanya was the murder of such extraordinary people. It was my response to the senseless murder along with countless other people who took on some deed.  It was the most meaningful action I could take.

I do not receive a commission on the “sale of the Tanya”, but I hope that on this Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism, you will consider starting a special journey that will most certainly enrich your life -of that I am most certain.

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Together in Happines and its Center for Marriage Education, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum.
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