As part of the new grassroots initiative to study the entire Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah in one year, a new daily podcast will offer a daily davening takeaway by Rabbi Shmuel Weinstein, Director of Chabad on Campus in Pittsburgh, and a NASA scientist.
The Alter Rebbe chose the path of Chassidus in order to learn how to serve Hashem through davening.
Rabbi Shmuel Weinstein, Director of Chabad on Campus in Pittsburgh, has been farbrenging on the topics of both davening and the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus for over three decades. Now, with the launch of Project Likkutei Torah we found him to be the perfect candidate to give a Daily Davening Takeaway.
“Something that is unique about Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah is that there are a lot of really interesting davening takeaways, whether it is explaining different words of davening or just explaining the different sections of davening. We therefore also set out to create a 5-10 minute nugget on davening that people can practically implement,” says Rabbi Weinstein.
In addition to having the largest library of Niglah and Chassidus in the city of Pittsburgh, Rabbi Weinstein has a broad scientific knowledge from his work for NASA, building equipment to explore life on Mars. His experience as a biologist at Carnegie Mellon University also gives him the ability to explain the deepest concepts in Chassidus to both a seasoned Lubavitcher Chassid and a college professor with no Torah background.
As of now, close to 400 people are part of Project Likkutei Torah’s learning cycle by either joining the daily WhatsApp broadcasts, three podcast tracks, or YouTube Channel.
“The podcasts are attracting an ever-growing audience, with over 1,000 downloads to date,” one organizer told Anash.org.
The shiurim present concepts in plain English, making it very simple for allowing even those with less in-the-text experience to participate.
To date, available shiurim include:
(1) Daily 30-40 minute detailed daf overview,
(2) Daily 5-10 minute short daf summary, and
(3) Weekly 30-40 minute Shir HaShirim detailed daf overview.
The fascinating origins of this revolutionary project took place about a month ago, when Rabbi Betzalel Bassman of Pittsburgh wanted to learn some Torah Ohr, but couldn’t muster up the inspiration to delve into the concepts at that moment. He instead decided to count the pages.
What Rabbi Bassman found was astonishing:
“I counted exactly 351 pages in Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah,” Bassman says.
“The Rebbe pushed for Chassidim to learn the entire set each year, but I never managed it; I would successfully start off the winter months (when the parshios are shorter), but I would get discouraged in the summer months as the parshios crept up to 15-20 dafim per week!
When the Tzemach Tzedek selected the choicest maamorim of the Alter Rebbe, compiling Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah, perhaps he intended to learn one daf per day!”
Surprisingly enough, there are roughly 27 dafim of hosafos – additional dafim placed at the end of each section. These pages can be reserved for leap years, when there are an additional 29 days in the calendar year!
“So every leap year we will add in those 27 pages,” concludes Bassman.
Another fascinating discovery: Aside from maamorim on the weekly parshah, there are an additional 51 dafim in Likkutei Torah of discourses on Shir haShirim. Bassman quickly calculated: 51 dafim = 51 weeks per year! Learning an extra daf of Shir HaShirim every Shabbos makes it possible to finish these Shir HaShirim discourses within the year as well – merging beautifully with the custom of reciting Shir Hashirim at the onset of every Shabbos.
Rabbi Mendy Cohen, Director of Chabad of Sacramento, CA relates, “The very night that Rabbi Bassman told me his ideas for this project, I had a dream in which I was sitting at a farbrengen of the Rebbe. The Rebbe said, ‘Es iz tzugekumen a naye shlav in hafotzas hamaayanos- Project Likkutei Torah (a new stage of the spreading of Chassidus has emerged – Project Likkutei Torah)’. When I woke up I immediately called Rabbi Bassman. Thus, the program took on its name “Project Likkutei Torah”.
Project Likkutei Torah was launched in memory of Rabbi Bassman’s mother, Mrs. Faigy Bassman, of blessed memory.
This project takes on extra urgency, as the Rebbe said in 1991: “Learning the entire Torah Ohr & Likkutei Torah will hasten the completion of our mission to bring Moshiach. May it happen speedily, Amen!