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The Power of Tanya

The Lubavitcher Rebbe began a campaign to print the book of Tanya, the seminal work of Chabad Chassidic thought, in cities around the globe. To date, close to 5,000 editions of Tanya have been printed, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe.

The 119th edition of the Tanya was printed in 5738 (1978) in Tehran, Persia (today, Iran). At the time, the rav of the Jewish community in Persia, Rabbi Yehuda Ezrachian told (in Kfar Chabad Magazine) about the miracle in connection with the printing of the Tanya.

"About a year before the Revolution, two emissaries of the Rebbe came to Iran in order to print the Tanya. The community decided to print many copies of the Tanya in order to distribute them to the Jews of the community.

"The Tanya was sent to be printed, but there were delays and it took a long time. In the meantime, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah. When the work of the community resumed, and I was responsible for the community's spiritual needs, I tried to get all the copies of the Tanya from the printer in order to bring them to the community's library. There, in the large hall of the library, they were stored for the meantime, in messy piles.

"At that time, a new law was announced called 'cleansing.' The new law stated that every Iranian citizen and all public organizations had thirty days in which to burn all documents, papers, and books they owned, containing the Shah's royal emblem, his name, and the like.

"The law stated that after thirty days, anybody who possessed anything with one of these symbols would be severely punished. And if it was determined that he purposely did not destroy these symbols, he would be executed.

"We faced a difficult problem in that we had archives over one hundred years old, and most of the papers, documents, and books, had the royal crown on them, as well as the name of the Shah and his government. For example, we had many special gold coins that the k'hilla produced in honor of the king's coronation and in celebration of 2500 years since the coronation of Koresh. On one side of the coin was a menorah and on the other side was either Koresh or the royal crown.

"It was very hard for us to accept the 'cleansing' of the entire library and the huge archive, considering its value, but we had no choice. Nevertheless, there was clearly no way we could comply with the law in such a short time.

"At the end of the month, before we had finished the work, the secretary came into my office and said that two government inspectors had shown up to inspect the offices in order to see whether we had followed the cleansing law.

"I was terrified. I knew that I was finished and that the entire Jewish community was in great danger. I said Vidui (Confession), Shma, and prepared myself for what I knew was coming. When the inspectors entered my office, and I was frightened to death, it occurred to me, for some reason, to take them first to the library.

"The first thing they saw were piles of books that were thrown all over the place. One of the inspectors bent down and took one of these books, which was a Tanya. He asked me what it was, and I told him about the Baal HaTanya, about the Chabad movement, about Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, and about Chassidus. I told him that this was one of the movement's primary works.

"He opened the book and asked me to explain to him what it said on the page he opened to. It was the first page of Shaar Haichal V'HaEmuna. I translated and explained the entire page, from beginning to end. When I was done, the inspector closed it, kissed it, and said, 'In a place with books like these, and with such a person in charge, there is no need for anything else!'

"When I had recovered from this pleasant shock, I said to him before he left that we would be extremely happy if he would sign our guestbook."



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