Searching for Depth, Sparking Conversations: For thirty weeks, a small publication has been igniting debate, conversation, probing questions, inventive solutions, and most importantly, passion, in the weekly study program of Project Likkutei Sichos.
For thirty weeks, a small publication has been igniting debate, conversation, probing questions, inventive solutions, and most importantly, passion, in the weekly study program of Project Likkutei Sichos.
Started independently by a group of bochurim learning in Oholei Torah, “Kovetz Haaros HaTimimim V’Anash – Project Likkutei Sichos” is inspired by two passions of the Rebbe — original Torah contributions by bochurim and laity alike, and the immersive study of Likkutei Sichos.
The Kovetz is riding a wave of enthusiasm inspired by Project Likkutei Sichos. A founding member of the publication, Boruch Shneur Kalmenson, says that he and his friends are simply seizing on a unique opportunity to do something the Rebbe famously and consistently cherished and encouraged — chassidim publishing novel insight on the subjects they are studying.
“Previously, if you had a question on something you were learning, there wasn’t much of a chance to begin a substantive discussion because your friend was learning something else,” Kalmenson explains.
“PLS changed this reality. Now, there’s a global community studying the same sichos every week, and it is allowing deep discussion to take place across the pages of our Kovetz. It’s like a huge virtual Beis Midrash that enables people to ask questions, provide insight, and deepen their understanding of a sicha.”
The group began the publication when the global community started volume ten of Likkutei Sichos in the week of Shabbos Bereishis. This week marks the thirtieth issue, a remarkable feat of consistency for a small group of two to four volunteers.
Many insights, essays, and questions are submitted in English by anash and shluchim around the world. The volunteer staff then translates the submissions into Hebrew. Typically, the staff wait until Thursday night for all the material to arrive in their inbox. They then start to work through the night until early Friday morning, sending off the finished product to hundreds of email addresses just before heading to morning Seder at Oholie Torah.
Additional material is gleaned from the chat forums on the Project Likkutei Sichos website and Whatsapp, where hundreds of avid sicha students volley back and forth with spirited debate about the meaning of a given passage. The editors comb through the chats weekly, and preserve any noteworthy comment in the pages of the Kovetz.
The dividends are plain: The reality is that, until now, not all sichos received the same attention. A “Rashi Sicha” in volume 18 on parshas Emor would not be as well-explored as a foundational sicha on “dirah b’tachtonim” in Shemos volume 6. But with the wider Chabad community’s focus trained on each of the weekly sichos individually, there are numerous discussions and close readings of sichos that were relatively unknown until now.
Take, for example, that under-the-radar Rashi sicha on Emor. A few weeks ago a question printed in the Kovetz sparked a five-week exchange of questions, answers, refutations, and clarifications. Sichos that were never before examined so closely are getting the same treatment as those that are the foundations of the Rebbe’s Torah.
Rabbi Binyomin Bitton, a shliach and celebrated lecturer in Vancouver, appreciates the opportunity to delve deeper into the weekly sicha. “Every sicha has layers and layers of depth that needs to be developed. A written forum is the ideal place for people to contribute and uncover these layers. There is space for someone to spend time unfolding a footnote of a sicha, its meaning and implications.”
Kalmenson has hopes that as the publication receives more exposure, so will his inbox receive even more submissions.
With Gimmel Tammuz fast approaching, there is no better time to head to the keyboard and offer your question, thought, or clarification to the worldwide community of sicha enthusaints.
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