The Chassidus Encyclopedia Expands

By and Kehos

“The great need for an encyclopedia of Chassidus is self-understood… it fits with the shita of Chabad, that one of its foundations is that Chassidus must be properly understood, even by the logic of the nefesh habahamis”.

These words were written by the Rebbe to Harav Shlomo Zevin, a”h, in connection to the printing of the first volume of Sefer Ho’Erchim, the Encyclopedia of Chabad Chassidus, in 5731 (1971).

The high esteem in which the Rebbe held this work is evident. In the above-mentioned letter, the Rebbe seemed to consider Sefer Ho’Erchim to be a sequel to his own work containing indexes on various seforim of Chassidus. 

This week, the long-awaited volume 9 of Sefer Ho’Erchim finally hit the shelves. Every volume in this set has immeasurable value; volume 9, however, is of particular importance, as the subjects addressed in it are related to אחדות השם , G-dly unity.

As is well known, אחדות השם is the foundation on which the entirety of Chassidus is built. Understanding Hashem’s true oneness, that there is in truth no other existence besides Him, is at the core of everything that Chassidus teaches us. 

The Mitteler Rebbe writes in the introduction to Imrei Binah, that everything the Alter Rebbe elaborated on in all of his maamarim was for the purpose of making true אחדות השם a reality for us. Likewise, the Tzemach Tzedek writes in Derech Mitzvosecha that the concept of ניטא קיין איך – “there is no I”- is the true essence of what Chassidus is all about.

Considering the above, a sefer entirely devoted to systematically summing up much of what is written in Chassidus about אחדות השם would certainly be considered fundamental! 

Unlike a regular encyclopedia whose value is only to collect and reference the information, Sefer Ho’Erchim actually provides an in-depth understanding of the concepts mentioned in within it. Reb Yoel Kahn, the author of Sefer Ho’erchim, has organized and presented the material in a way that provides exceptional clarity to each topic.

A source close to the famed mashpia Reb Meilach Zwiebel, a”h, of the Morristown Yeshiva, told that Reb Meilach’s set of Sefer Ho’Erchim was ripped due to frequent use. Often, when someone approached Reb Meilach with a question in Chassidus, he would immediately open to a certain page in Sefer Ho’Erchim and say, “Read what it says here, and you will have the answer to your question.” In fact, Reb Meilach even advised certain individuals to read through sections of it, and not merely use it as a reference book. This was of course not meant to replace the learning the original ma’amorim, but it certainly attests to the incredible value that this sefer contains.

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