Rishe Groner – Chabad.org
In more than two centuries since the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, authored the Tanya, the seminal work on Chabad philosophy has journeyed to far-off places—being printed in multiple languages across continents from Africa to Asia, and Australia too. But this wasn’t your cosmopolitan Sydney or Melbourne—this time the Tanya headed to the Australian bush. On Sunday evening, the 24th of Tevet in Australia, the Tanya was printed in a place that is no stranger to the teachings of Chassidus – but also familiar with the kangaroo, koala and eucalyptus tree.
At Camp Gan Yisrael’s Coonawarra Farm Resort in Gippsland, Australia, more than 200 teens participated in the first “outback” printing of the Tanya in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of its author’s passing.
While the Australian summer heat blazes, schoolchildren from Melbourne, under the leadership of Chabad Youth’s Rabbi Moshe Kahn and counselors from the local yeshiva for older students, are happy to spend their summer swimming, canoeing or throwing a football around, Aussie-rules style. This week, however, they gathered in camp for a one-of-a-kind experience that marked an important moment in their history: A Tanya printing ceremony.
Traditionally, Tanyas have been printed throughout the world to signify and bolster the spread of Chassidic philosophy. Campers who had been on their best behavior all week were given the honor of assisting with the printing process for the special occasion. Boys between the ages of 10 and 17 gathered to sing traditional nigunnim, Chassidic melodies that included “Keli Atah”, originally taught by Rabbi Schneur Zalman, known as the Alter Rebbe, as well as the moving melody of the “Four Stanzas”, reserved for special occasions, as the printing began. Before long, the singing broke out into exhilarated dancing to traditional Chabad nigunnim as the new printing was dedicated to the Chabad Youth of Melbourne.
Rabbi Menachem Lipskier, head of the Melbourne chapter of the children’s organization Tzivos Hashem, addressed the crowd prior to the printing. He noted the special nature of the occasion, since earlier this year Chabad Youth and Tzivos Hashem had also dedicated a Torah scroll called “Leiby’s Torah” to the children’s minyan, prayer group, with funds raised by the children of the community.
“Since the Tanya is known as the “written Torah” of Chassidus, this occasion is truly special,” said Lipskier, referring to the Tanya as the primary written work of Chabad philosophy. “Chabad Youth has merited to bring into being both a traditional Torah scroll, and now also, the Torah of Chassidus,” he added.
To signify the importance of the occasion, there was a siyum, completion ceremony by a group of older yeshiva students from Melbourne as they completed studying the entire Tanya. Following the completion, Rabbi Shmuel Lesches, a lecturer at the yeshiva, opened the study of the Tanya anew. Rabbi Benyomin Cohen, the Yeshiva’s Dean, taught the assembled campers the 32d Chapter, where it is traditional for children and new students to begin Tanya study.
School’s out for the summer? As 200 teens and pre-teens of Camp Gan Yisrael in far-off country Australia showed, it’s only the beginning. From White Russia to Coonawarra Farm Resort, they were determined to show that the Tanya has certainly come a long way.