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New Translation Gives Russian-Speakers Access to Rebbe’s Teachings

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With this week’s release of a collection of talks delivered by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, Russian-speaking audiences can now lay claim to teachings of the Rebbe dealing with each of the Torah’s 54 sections.

Published jointly by New York’s F.R.E.E. Publishing House and the Jerusaelm-based SHAMIR, the Association of Religious Scientists and Professionals From the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the 172-page work presents edited talks of the Rebbe dealing with the book of Deuteronomy. The text which joins four other volumes of the Likkutei Sichot title corresponding to the books of Genesis through Numbers was translated by Rabbi Yehuda Veksler, who worked under Professor Herman Branover, founder of SHAMIR and editor-in-chief of its publishing arm.

Rabbi Meyer Okunov, chairman of F.R.E.E., the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe, said that Russian-speakers continue to use the organization’s prayer books and Bibles printed in their native tongue. But a growing demand for more sublime works of Chasidic thought led the institution which, at the Rebbe’s insistence, was founded in 1969 to provide spiritual support to Russian immigrants to embark on translating Chasidic discourses more than two decades ago.

A compilation of talks ordered according to the weekly Torah reading did not hit bookshelves until the late 1990s.

Our first volume was published in 1998, and has since been reprinted three times for a total of more than 12,000 copies, reported Betzalel Shif, director of SHAMIR.

Added Okunov: Please G-d, if the demand remains strong enough, we will continue to release further volumes.

The project follows several publishing efforts aimed at disseminating the Rebbe’s public teachings, which he delivered in a series of regular gatherings at Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first Yiddish volume of Likkutei Sichot was released by the Kehot Publication Society in 1962. Further installments followed, with some appearing in Hebrew, for a total of 39 separate volumes.

Sichos in English, another habad-Lubavitch publishing house, began releasing English translations of selected talks under the Likkutei Sichot title in 1980.

Okunov said that the audience keeps growing as more and more Russian Jews learn about their heritage, whether they live in the United States, Europe, Israel or the former Soviet Union.

We want Jewish books to be in every Russian home, he said. But we’re also placing special emphasis on the libraries, community centers and Chabad Houses.