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What is “the long short way?”
First, a story.
The Gemara Eruvin tells a story of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanina.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanina said, “Once, a child outsmarted me.”
“I met a boy at a crossroads, and I asked him, ‘How do I get to the city.’ He answered, ‘This way is the short, long way, and this is the long short way.’“I took the ‘short long way’ and I found that the way to the city was blocked by gardens and orchards. I returned to the boy and asked him, ‘Didn’t you say this was the ‘short way’?’
“The boy answered, ‘Didn’t I say it was long?'”
The Tanya and “the long short way.”
The Alter Rebbe in his introduction to the Tanya describes the ensuing chapters as being the ultimate guide for the everyman. He also explains why he is writing the book. Far too many people needed tailored advice from the Alter Rebbe, and there simply wasn’t enough time to meet with everyone. So like Moshe Rabbeinu, the Alter Rebbe asks that people bring their questions to the elders and teachers in their towns.
Meeting with teachers and asking advice—even from the Alter Rebbe—is “the short, long way.” Once the teacher—or Rebbe—relates the teaching, it’s up to us to apply the information and live by it—the obstructions on the way to the city.
“The long short way” is the books—with general, abstract, and powerful information—left to us to interpret with the aid of teachers. The road is long, but the destination is guaranteed. We can reclaim our literacy and gain the ability to discern between authenticity and the opposite.
This website is designed to help you learn on your own. You’ll need to invest time and effort to learn the language, become familiar with terms, and apply the information you learn. I in no way claim the exclusive rights to Chassidus nor do I think that my interpretations are the final word.
The Long Short Way is a tool so that you can learn on your own and ultimately—teach others.
Why did The Long Short Way start?
In 2015 (5775), I a shliach in Bais Menachem in Wilkes-Barre, PA. There, while learning with young men who were thirsty for Chassidus, I noticed several issues. Firstly, most English translations at the time (and still today) had used a language that is terse and technical. A lot of these translations were catered to college and university students and not to Lubavitcher bochrim. Words like, “level,” “essence,” “emanation,” “influx,” “effluence,” “drawing,”—”ex nihilo” (which is Latin!), etc. became overused and abstracted from their meaning. The simplified versions I came across were too simple and left out the scholarly aspect of Chassidus. Many terms used in Chassidus were distorted—words like, “chassidish,” “baaley battish,” kabolas ol,” and “frum”—had lost their meaning in our Yeshivos, shuls, and homes. These warped definitions of meaningful words of fundamental importance to our culture, heritage, spiritual life were replaced with ideas that are lacking.
We can reclaim our literacy and gain the ability to discern between authenticity and the opposite. We shouldn’t throw the metaphorical baby out with the bathwater either. By understanding Chassidus on our own, we can take ownership of our Divine service and free ourselves from chitzoniyus (vanity).