Watch: Tanya on the Airwaves

Of all the spiritual leaders of the modern era, none has championed the use of technology to advance G-dliness more than the Lubavitcher Rebbe. 

The current Living Torah special documents one example of this theme with the groundbreaking usage of a weekly radio show to broadcast a live Tanya class over the airwaves.

The Tanya, written at the turn of the 19th century by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad movement and its first Rebbe, is a monumental opus which presents Chasidic philosophy and its practical application in a systematic and concise fashion. 

In 1960, marking 200 years since the passing of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement,  upon whose teachings the Tanya elaborates, the Rebbe encouraged Rabbi Yosef Wineberg to begin a weekly radio series teaching the Tanya on New York’s FM radio.

Watch the film.

    As Rabbi Wineberg related, the Rebbe was hardly a mere passive supporter of the program, but was actually a loyal listener. Indeed the Rebbe’s contribution was both fiscal and scholastic, helping with the costs to get the show on the air as well as providing countless pages of detailed notes to help Rabbi Wineberg explain complex concepts for the layperson. “The Rebbe gave directions for each and every thing,” Rabbi Wineberg told JEM. “The time and effort he put in was just unbelievable.”

When the series concluded after twenty-two years, a suggestion was made to compile the classes into a book, to which the Rebbe gave immediate approval. Originally written in Yiddish, it was soon translated into seven different languages, and the now famous Lessons in Tanya was born.

The presentation concludes with a talk by the Rebbe explaining the Tanya’s opening statement and its relevance to the upcoming Rosh Hashanah season. As the soul undergoes a re-birth with each new year, it is given an increase in the tools and capacity to carry out its mission–making use of itself and the world to glorify its Creator.

Watch the film.