Weekly Chasidic Story #1199 (s5781-11
/ 14 Kislev 5781 /Nov.30, 2020) This week
The next Shabbos in shul, the entire community celebrated
the miracle with me that took place in the merit of the Tanya.
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing.
Tehran Tanya Miracle
1978, The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated a campaign to print the book of Tanya,
the seminal work of Chabad Chassidic thought, in cities around the globe. To date
(Nov. 2020), more than 7,500 editions of Tanya have been
printed, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe.
About a year before the Revolution
in early 1979, two emissaries of the Rebbe came to Iran in order to print the
Tanya in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. The Jewish community there decided
to print many copies of the Tanya in order to distribute them to the Jews of the
The Tanya was sent to be printed, but there were delays and it took
a long time. In the meantime, in Feb. 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah
('king' in Persian), Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. R. Yehuda Ezrachian, who was responsible
for the Jewish community's spiritual needs, arranged to remove 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 temporarily, in messy
The new government announced a law, called 'cleansing,' stating
that every Iranian citizen and all public organizations had thirty days in which
to burn all the documents, papers, and books they owned that had on them the Shah's
royal emblem, or even just his name, or anything connected to his reign. It ominously
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 them, he would be executed.
R. Yehuda Ezrachian relates:
"We faced a serious problem in that we had archives over a hundred years
old, and most of the documents and books had the royal emblem on them, as well
as the name of the Shah and his government. We also had a collection of special
gold coins that the community produced in 1967 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 the royal
emblem, the name Koresh or a crown.
"As Jews, it was very hard for
us to accept the 'cleansing' of the entire valuable library and huge archive of
our traditions, but we had no choice. Anyhow, clearly there was no way we could
comply with the law in such a short time.
"When the month ended, we
had not yet managed to complete the job, as expected. A day or two later, the
secretary came into my office and said that two government inspectors had shown
up to inspect the entire building, in order to see whether we had followed the
"I was terrifed. I understood that I was doomed and
that the entire Jewish community was in great danger. I said Vidui (Confession)
and Shma Yisrael, and prepared myself for what I knew was coming.
the inspectors entered my offce, I was able to outwardly remain calm. For some
reason, and still to this day I can't explain why, it occurred to me to take them
first to the library.
"They immediately noticed the piles of books
that were strewn all over. One of the inspectors bent over and picked one up.
It was a Tanya! He asked me what it was, and I told him first about the author,
about the Baal HaTanya, then about the Chabad movement, the Baal Shem Tov and
Chassidut. I also said that this book was one of the primary texts of the movement.
opened it at random and asked me to explain to him what it said on the page he
had opened to. It was the ?rst page of Book Two, Shaar HaYichud V'HaEmuna.
I translated into Persian and explained the entire page.
was done, the inspector closed it, kissed it, and said, 'In a place with books
like these, and with such a person in charge of a place like this, there is no
need for any additional inspections.'
"We were stunned. When I recovered
from this unexpected but very pleasing shock, I said to him that we would be extremely
happy if he would sign our guestbook before he left. He agreed with a smile, and
wrote: 'On such-and-such a day, I visited the offices of the Jewish community,
and inspected and ascertained that all was as it should be.'"
following Shabbat, in shul, the entire Tehran Jewish community celebrated
with R. Yehuda Ezrachian the miracle that took place in the merit of the Tanya.
primary source for the story was published in 2012, and there the number was "nearly
'Cyrus' - founder of the first Persian empire. The king after
him was Achashveros of Purim notoriety. Korush's relationship to the Jews is discussed
in the Book of Ezra 1:3.)
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel
Tilles from an interview with R. Yehuda Ezrachian in Kfar Chabad Magazine, as
translated on chabadmanhattanbeach.com/2639065 (and with a bit of the editing
of Michoel Dobry in the Beis Moshiach version).
Connection: Seasonal --
This Shabbat is Yud Tes Kislev, the Chasidic festival celebrating
(in reverse chronological order) the miraculous release of the first Chabad Rebbe
from Czarist prison in 1798, the first printing of Tanya in 1796, and the passing
of the Rabbi Dov-Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov,
in 1760; all three events happening on the same date, the 19th (yud-tet)
of the Jewish month of Kislev.
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor
of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories
to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them
live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.
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of the Full Moon"
the Full Moon" vol 2 - holiday stories)
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1 of Yerachmiel Tilles's 3-volume set, "Saturday
Night, Full Moon",
also available for purchase on
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