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The Chitas Study Cycles Instituted by the Rebbe Rayatz: Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya

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Sefer HaMinhagim
The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs

The Chitas Study Cycles Instituted by the Rebbe Rayatz: Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya

Translated by Uri Kaploun

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The[152] following daily study cycles[153] of Chitas apply equally to all, in addition to the study periods that each individual undertakes according to his ability. [The acronym Chitas (cf. Bereishis 35:5) is made up of the initials of the words Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya.]

(a) Chumash with the Commentary of Rashi:[154]

Every day one studies one passage of the current week's Sidra [i.e., the Sidra to be publicly read on the forthcoming Shabbos] with the commentary of Rashi. Thus, on the first day of the week one reaches Sheini, on the second one reaches Shlishi, and so on.

When the reading of a Sidra is deferred for a week or two (because a festival coincided with Shabbos), one repeats the study of its daily passages in the course of the second and third weeks according to the same pattern.

On Simchas Torah [the annual cycle of the public Shabbos reading of the entire Chumash ends, even though it often falls on a weekday. On this day] one studies (with the commentary of Rashi) the [last] Sidra, Vezos HaBerachah - from the passage for the day of the week on which Simchas Torah falls, until the end of the Sidra.

On Isru Chag, the day following Simchas Torah, one studies the [first] Sidra, Bereishis, with the commentary of Rashi - from the beginning, up to and including the passage belonging to that day of the week.

(b) Tehillim:[155]

After the morning prayers every day - including Shabbos, Yom-Tov, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur [after Mussaf] - one recites chapters of Tehillim as apportioned for the days of the month. If a minyan is present, this reading is followed by Kaddish Yasom.

When the 29th is the last day of the month, one reads the portion for the 30th day as well.

For the order of Tehillim read on Shabbos Mevarchim, see p. 59, below.

For the additional passages of Tehillim that are read during Elul and in the beginning of Tishrei (until Yom Kippur), see p. 113, below.

As is well known, Tehillim (including the above-mentioned daily portion) is not read at night, from the appearance of the stars until after midnight. However, one does study Chumash and Tanya. The above restriction does not apply on Rosh HaShanah, the Days of Penitence, Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah. (On Hoshana Rabbah, [the entire Book of] Tehillim is read after midnight.)[156]

(c) Tanya:[157]

The daily passages should be studied as set out in the annual study guide entitled Moreh Shiur [which appears as the first appendix to all current editions of the Tanya].

Every day one should study[158] a portion of the Written Torah (Scripture) with the commentary of Rashi, which incorporates the choicest teachings of our Sages.... Moreover, one should study at least one tractate of the Talmud[159] every year.

Even quite ordinary chassidim used to be familiar with the text of the whole Tanach. After Shacharis they would study their daily quota of Mishnayos; then, while folding their tallis and tefillin, it was their established custom to read a passage of the Tanach, completing it in this way in three months.[160]

Regular daily Torah study is crucial to life itself. It influences not only the soul of the one who studies, but the souls of his family as well, for it permeates the atmosphere of his home with a spirit of Torah and piety.[161]



  1. (Back to text) See Kitzurim VeHe'aros LeSefer Likkutei Amarim, p. 127.

  2. (Back to text) See "By Way of Introduction" to HaYom Yom; for further details see the foreword to the Moreh Shiur referred to in paragraph (c) of the above text.

    "The daily readings as apportioned for daily study - the chapters of Tehillim, the parshah of Chumash with the commentary of Rashi, and the passage of Tanya - vitally concern the very life of every individual." (Kovetz Lubavitch, Booklet 7, p. 24.)

  3. (Back to text) "Chabad chassidim over the generations observe a tradition initiated by the Alter Rebbe - the daily study of each day's parshah of Chumash, from the current week's Sedra, with the commentary of Rashi. This was the practice of the Rebbeim of Chabad too." (HaYom Yom, p. 13.)

    "Studying a parshah of Chumash every day with the commentary of Rashi, reading Tehillim every day, and completing the entire Book of Tehillim on Shabbos Mevarchim, - about these things one must be scrupulous. They are crucial to oneself, one's children, and one's children's children." (Ibid., p. 23.)

    "The Alter Rebbe once said: 'The commentary of Rashi on the Torah is the very wine of the Torah; it unlocks one's heart and reveals one's innate and elemental love and awe [of G-d]. The commentary of Rashi on the Gemara unlocks the mind and reveals one's innate and elemental intellect.'" (HaYom Yom, p. 24.)

    "Studying a parshah of Chumash every day with the commentary of Rashi activates the light in the soul and the revelation of the soul - which is a glow of the revelation of Mashiach." (Kovetz Lubavitch, Booklet 7, p. 24.)

  4. (Back to text) In connection with the daily reading from the monthly cycle of Tehillim, an extract from a letter of the Rebbe Rayatz is reproduced below: "...At the beginning of the year 5687 (1926) I made a request to the chassidic brotherhood - that every group of worshipers in the synagogues after Shacharis should make a regular practice of reading the daily allotment of Tehillim as apportioned throughout each month, and that this be followed by Kaddish, according to custom. This request still stands - for the public good. (Indeed, it would be proper to institute this practice in every shul, for it is not relevant to chassidim alone.) And by virtue of this reading, may all those concerned be blessed by the Source of Blessings with all manner of bounty both spiritual and material...."

    The Rebbe Shlita appends the following note to the above letter: "In order to clarify the chronology of events, we hereby reproduce a passage from the account of The Imprisonment and the Liberation of the Rebbe, my revered father-in-law, in 5687 (1927), written by a friend of the Rebbe's household - the esteemed and venerable chassid, R. Eliyahu Chayim ben R. Pinchas Todros Althaus (May G-d avenge his martyrdom!)."

    The passage reads as follows: "From the beginning of that fateful year, 5687, a fearful dread overcame all those who felt close to the Rebbe, the House of our Life. The fear reached even the Rebbe himself, as my friend R. Michael Dvorkin and I heard explicitly from his holy mouth in Kostrama, the town to which the Rebbe was exiled [after his reprieve on Gimmel Tammuz]. These were his very words, letter by letter: 'Before 5687 I was very much afraid. It was not myself I was anxious about; I was thinking about the chassidim. I experienced great difficulty in finally issuing the directive that people should start reciting Tehillim.'

    " 'When was the directive issued?' I asked.

    " 'On Simchas Torah,' replied the Rebbe.

    "I then recalled that on Simchas Torah that year, at the Kiddush that was held in the room of his mother, the Rebbitzin [Sterna Sarah], the Rebbe had repeatedly asked the members of the chassidic brotherhood to undertake (bli neder) to read the daily allotment of Tehillim according to the monthly cycle - in all the minyanim after Shacharis, with Kaddish following. I recall that I asked him if I would discharge my obligation by the Tehillim that I read every day before davenen.

    "The Rebbe replied in these words: 'The Tehillim that one reads before [the morning's] davenen is connected to Tikkun Chatzos.'

    "All in all, the talks of the Rebbe on that Simchas Torah were pervaded by a spirit of bitterness, coming from a contrite and shattered heart.

    "I have no doubt that the well-known penciled note concerning the reading of Tehillim that we found in the Rebbe's study on the dread day of his imprisonment had also been written in Elul 5686 or in Tishrei 5687. This is my conclusion, because though it was undated, it concludes with his blessing for 'a happy year,' as people are accustomed to do either at the end of a year or at the beginning of the next.

    "This is a copy of the note that was found on a high table in the Rebbe's study after he had been imprisoned on Wednesday, 15 Sivan 5687, in Leningrad: 'Chassidim, and all Jews who are waiting in hope for Mashiach: listen! Pass the word on in my name to all chassidim around the world - that I have directed that in all chassidic shuls, after Shacharis every day (including Shabbos), Tehillim should be read communally by the congregation according to the monthly cycle, and this reading should be followed by Kaddish. Moreover, all the businessmen and market folk who cherish the homely warmth of yore should go to shul to pray, and should be present [between Minchah and Maariv] during the communal study of Ein Yaakov. And the Almighty will enable them to earn a comfortable livelihood.

    "'When you speak to chassidim, tell them this comes from me as a directive; when you speak to other Jews, tell them that out of the love of a fellow Jew, and out of concern for the welfare of a fellow Jew, I ask them to fulfill the above requests.

    "'May the Almighty bless us all with a happy year, both spiritually and materially, and may we be privileged to experience a complete Redemption through Mashiach, Amen." (Kovetz Michtavim, the letters appended to Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchak, Kehot, N.Y., p. 210.)

  5. (Back to text) A directive of the Rebbe Shlita.

  6. (Back to text) "As to the passage of Tanya which is to be read every day [as explained above], what matters is not necessarily that it should be understood profoundly, but rather that one should simply read and study the text, and day by day extract several words from it with which one can live one's entire day. This applies both to businessmen and to fulltime scholars." (Kovetz Lubavitch, Booklet 7, p. 24.)

  7. (Back to text) See the conclusion of the maamar beginning Al Chomosayich, 5638, cited in HaYom Yom, p. 38ff.; see also footnote 159, below.

  8. (Back to text) Cf. the letter of the Alter Rebbe [at the end of Kuntreis Acharon] beginning Hocheiach Tochiach. See also [the second footnote added later, in the Second Edition, to] the Appendix in which the Rebbe Shlita renewed the custom of the annual division of the Shas. This Appendix appears at the end of Likkut 32 [i.e., p. 1195 in the original Heb./Yid. edition of Likkutei Dibburim], which was first published in honor of 24 Teves, 5711. See also (p. 151, below) the order of events to be followed on 19 and 20 Kislev.

    "In earlier years, in addition to the regular study session in Halachah instituted by the Alter Rebbe [see Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 23, and the Introduction of the Mitteler Rebbe to the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch], each [chassid] used to study every day a parshah of Chumash with Rashi, a chapter of Mishnayos, two chapters of Tanach, an amud of Gemara, a paragraph of Shulchan Aruch, and passages of Midrash and Zohar." (Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 93.)

  9. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 29.

  10. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 101.

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