Posted by: gruvenreuven | June 3, 2009

The “New” Alter Rebbe?

Alter Rebbe

Crownheights.info reports that a new portrait of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi was revealed this past Tuesday.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (18 Elul 1745-24 Tevet 1812) was one of the main (and youngest) disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, and the founder of Chabad Chassidus. He is the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many other major works in both Jewish law and the mystical teachings

Apparently the picture has been passed down from family to family for over 200 years. There are no reports as to who exactly the family is, and why it hasn’t been disclosed until now. (All this of course feeding my skepticism)

Also of note is that the Alter Rebbe reportedly had a scar on his nose. (although I can’t see a trace of a scar on either the new or old portraits) The above picture on the right is the one that is commonly known and and verified as the Alter Rebbe. It was a mugshot if you will, painted while the Alter Rebbe was jailed in 1798. The complete story is detailed here in this audio file from the Chabad Audio Heritage series on SichosinEnglish.org website.

To add more speculation to the story, there are reports that The Kapuster Rebbe who had a son (R. Chaim Avraham) was known to have a strong resemblance to the Alter Rebbe. I guess without some form of information from the family that as reportedly handed down this portrait through generation, the picture is just an “interesting painting”.

Regardless of who is in the portrait, the Alter Rebbe is probably best known for his systematic exposition of Hasidic Jewish philosophy, entitled Likkutei Amarim, more widely known as the Tanya, which was first published in 1797. The Tanya deals with Jewish spirituality and psychology from a Kabbalistic point of view, and expounds on such profound themes as the Oneness of God, Tzimtzum, the Sefirot, simcha, bitachon, and many other mystical concepts. The Tanya can be read online here courtesty chabad.org

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