Wellspring Part 2
(Click here for Part
the Scenes at
the Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos
Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan
exactly do the Rebbe’s sichos kodesh get into print? How many
steps are involved? What’s the difference between a “hanacha
bilti muga” and a sicha that’s been edited by the
Rebbe? * The following interview with the members of the Vaad
L’hafotzas Sichos – to whom the Rebbe gave sole authority to
publish Likkutei Sichos – coincides with the printing of its
latest volume, number 39, and is presented in the fervent hope
that we will merit to hear the “new dimension of Torah” from
the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach immediately.
I visited the offices of the Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos at 788
Eastern Parkway, the building next door to 770, above the main shul
and beis midrash of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. The first
things I saw were sfarim everywhere. Aside from bookshelves
filled with hundreds of volumes and facsimiles of handwritten
manuscripts, there are tables piled so high with books you can
almost hear the tables groaning. Even the chairs and windowsills
have been turned into impromptu libraries.
the window, Eastern Parkway bustles with its usual traffic, but
inside here, time seems to have stopped. The members of the Vaad
are busy at work, poring over volumes, making notations and
checking references in their vast computer archives.
we haven’t merited to hear a new sicha for eight years
now, I must admit that I expected to find the place empty.
Frankly, I was surprised by the fluster of activity. I decided to
begin my interview at the end and work my way backwards.
has been eight years now since the last pamphlet of Likkutei
Sichos came out. What has the Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos been
doing since then?
been very busy getting the last few volumes of Likkutei Sichos
ready for print. Right now we’re working on the final editing of
Volume 39, and Volume 2 of Seifer HaSichos 5747. We’re
also working on a set of indexes to the entire Likkutei Sichos
series. In addition, several other books are now in the process of
the best of my knowledge, the Likkutei Sichos are a reprint
of Sichos Kodesh, which were already published in booklet
form. Why would it take eight years to do this?
been hearing that same question for years. People don’t
understand why the process takes so long. But it’s not as simple
as taking a few booklets and binding them together. Halevai
it would be so easy!
have to understand that even after most of the sichos were
printed and distributed, the Rebbe made numerous editorial changes
and footnotes. Sometimes the changes were so radical as to totally
change the meaning of the sicha. Most of the time this
wasn’t the case, but there were always alterations, notations,
additions or portions to be omitted. Almost every single sicha
had to be corrected in some way or other.
addition, we were given specific directions from the Rebbe with
regard to updating the footnotes. For example, sometimes we had to
cite a sicha that had not yet been printed in a volume of Likkutei
Sichos. In those cases we would write, “See the sicha
of parshas such and such.” After it was published, we
would have to go back and change it. This is just one example, but
there are many other editorial technicalities. These matters are
very time consuming.
with Volume 18, each volume also contains a detailed summary of
every sicha. These summaries were also heavily edited by
important point is that the Likkutei Sichos do not only
contain the weekly likkutim on the parasha. At the
end of every volume is an addendum, the hosafos, which in
itself takes several months to prepare. These are usually letters
of the Rebbe that are connected to the weekly Torah portions
covered in that volume.
the way, these letters were printed years before the Rebbe’s Igros
Kodesh came out. In those days, Likkutei Sichos was the
only place you could find the Rebbe’s letters. Nowadays the
editors of the Igros Kodesh (headed by Rabbi Shalom Mendel
Simpson) have access to an extensive archive of the Rebbe’s
letters, but years ago it just didn’t exist. We had to collect
them one by one, contacting each person who had merited to receive
a letter. There are 26 volumes of Igros Kodesh, which
contain letters through the year 5731 (1971). Likkutei Sichos,
by contrast, contains many letters that were written after this
date. Gathering all this material and determining which parshiyos
they relate to is extremely time consuming.
would like to point out that some of the letters in the hosafos
were given to us directly by the Rebbe for inclusion. The Rebbe
even instructed his mazkirus [secretariat] to send us
copies of his correspondence for a while. In any event, all
of the hosafos were personally edited by the Rebbe,
although the material may have already been in print elsewhere.
fact, the directive to publish the Igros Kodesh series came
after the Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos asked the Rebbe for
access to more letters.
39 is about to be printed. What are your plans after that?
is our fervent hope that the Rebbe MH”M will be revealed even
before Volume 39 comes out, and we will merit to hear the new
Torah from Moshiach’s own lips. When that happens, we’ll be
plenty busy! One time, when Rabbi Zalman Chanin showed a new
volume of Likkutei Sichos to the Rebbe, the Rebbe said,
“When Moshiach comes, we’re going to first start printing
if, G-d forbid, we have to stay in exile for another short while,
our workload will still be full. First of all, we’re always
working on new and improved editions of the Likkutei Sichos.
Every little detail since the last printing is updated.
following the directives we received from the Rebbe, a few years
ago we published several indexes to the Likkutei Sichos.
These mafteichos did not include material found in later
volumes, which we’re working on now. We’re also updating the
previous volumes to make sure that all references are presented in
a standardized format. The objective is to make them
user-friendly, so that anyone wanting to look something up can
find it easily. The way it stands now, the indexes only cover five
of the nearly 40 volumes of Likkutei Sichos. A person
wanting to know where and when the Rebbe referred to a certain
topic has to consult several books. But G-d willing, by the time
we finish this project, doing research will be a lot easier.
also started publishing a new series, Likkutei Sichos –
Moadim, which will include the Rebbe’s edited sichos
kodesh and letters about the various festivals. Plus, there
are several other books the Rebbe instructed us to work on, such
as a collection of sichos on nigla that was put
together by Rabbi Isser Zalman Weisberg, many of which were edited
by the Rebbe.
perhaps the biggest project in the works these days is a Chumash
that will contain the Rebbe’s explanations verse by verse, and a
Seifer Tehillim in the same format.
first time the Rebbe officially edited a sicha for
publication was for Shavuos of 5718 (1958), when the
Division for Divrei Elokim Chayim of the central Lubavitch
Youth Organization [Tzach] approached the Rebbe with the request.
The objective was to help Lubavitchers going out to other shuls
to spread the Rebbe’s teachings.
the Rebbe approved the initial idea, they asked Rabbi Uriel
Tzimmer to prepare the hanachos in a simple,
straightforward format that lent itself to public speaking. Next,
these hanachos were submitted to the Rebbe for editing. The
end result was then duplicated and distributed among Anash
all over the world. These pages, which didn’t have the Rebbe’s
“logo” (some of which were put out by Kehos), were the topics
in Chassidus to be given over in shuls. They were solely
the work of the Lubavitch Youth Organization.
sichos came out every week until 5719; in 5722 they were
collected and bound in several books – this time, with the
Rebbe’s title page. The directors of Tzach came up with the idea
during a farbrengen for Yud Dalet Kislev 5719, the Rebbe
and Rebbetzin’s 30th wedding anniversary. During a yechidus,
they told the Rebbe that Anash wanted to publish the
Rebbe’s sichos and present them to him as a gift. The
Rebbe gave his approval and blessing, and that is how the first
volume of Likkutei Sichos came into being. It was also
decided then to print the Rebbe’s edited sichos in a
years passed. Before Simchas Torah of 5723 (1962), the Rebbe again
started to edit his sichos kodesh, apparently in honor of
the upcoming 150th yahrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe. These sichos,
which were prepared by Rabbi Yoel Kahan, first came out as
mimeographed pages. The Rebbe spent an entire year editing them,
after which they were published as official volumes of Likkutei
Sichos. This brought us up to Volume 4.
5725, after the passing of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana,
the Rebbe devoted a major portion of every farbrengen to
the literal meaning of the text in Rashi’s commentary. One of
the chozrim gave in his first drafts of these sichos
for the Rebbe’s approval, and everyone was delighted when the
Rebbe agreed to edit them as a memorial to his mother and an
elevation for her soul. Like the others, these sichos first
appeared as rough mimeographed sheets, without the official stamp
the joy proved to be rather short-lived, as the Rebbe stopped
editing them after Shabbos Parshas VaYishlach of that year. The
few sichos that were edited were later printed as an
addendum to Volume 5 of Likkutei Sichos.