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What's the value of learning "Chitas" compared to any other daily Torah study?

Side question: If it's so important, why was it introduced only recently?

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It is a valid question that deserves to be answered. –  user1292 Jul 18 '12 at 0:58
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@DoubleAA Isn't this discussing a particularly Chabad-advocated practice? –  Isaac Moses Jul 18 '12 at 2:58
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@IsaacMoses Chabad also advocates outreach, but I wouldn't tag an outreach question as such unless it asked about the movement Chabad's perspective on it. (I had the same question here judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17753/759 but forgot to ask it. The tag there would be like tagging every Rambam related question Teimani.) –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 3:03
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@DoubleAA Outreach isn't particular to Chabad, and Rambam isn't particular to Teimanim. Does anyone else promote Chitas? –  Isaac Moses Jul 18 '12 at 3:09
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@mochinrechavim No one did outreach until Chabad?? Can you source that? –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 6:33
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2 Answers 2

R' Zev Dov Slonim compiled a booklet that collates various sources that talk about the advantage of learning Chumash, saying Tehillim, and Learning Tanya daily. The booklet is also included in the Chitas sefer, published by Kehot. The footnotes on Sefer Haminhagim's entry on Chitas discusses this as well.

Here are some of them, see sources inside for more:

  • The Shibolei HaLeket (Inyan Tefilla #44), brings from his teacher Rashi that the early Chassidim would learn for an hour after prayer. He connects this to the idea brought in the Talmud (Kiddushin 30A) , that one should always split his his learning into three. A third Mikrah, a third Mishna, and a third Talmud.

    Rabbi Slonim points out that in Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah, Chapter 2, Halacha 1), the Baal HaTanya says that explanations of the Written Torah fall under the heading of "Mishna" and Kabbalah falls under the catagory of "Talmud".

    Hence, learning Chitas daily covers Mikrah (Tehillim, Chumash), Mishna (Rashi on Chumash), and Talmud (Tanya).

With regards to Chumash, from here:

  • "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." (HaYom Yom, 25th of Shevat)

  • "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, 29th of Shevat)

  • "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.)

On Tehillim (see here for who split it up into a daily portion and why):

  • From the Chida (Midbar Kedemot, Entry for Taharot (Tet), and Tehillim (Taf)) David Hamelech prayed and requested that saying Tehillim should be considered like learning Negaim and Ohalot (Taharot). The students of the Arizal said that learning Taharot is a Tikun for spiritually blemishing the Brit. David Hamelech was asking that his Tehillim should also peform the same spiritual healing.

  • the Chida then quotes Rabeinu Efraim on Parshat V'Zot HaBracha, who says that one who recited Tehillim daily is considered as if he fulfilled the whole Torah. See there for the connection.

  • the Chida follows that with a quote from Rabeinu Efraim on Parshat Vayigash, who says that one who recites Tehillim daily will merit to be under the Kisei HaKavod (G-d's throne). See there for the connection.

On Tanya:

There is a long letter from the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe (Igrot Kodesh volume 4, letter 1001) which discusses the value of the Tanya. One of the things it says in the letter (translation is mine):

  • The Book of Tanya is the incense for all the spiritual plagues during the time of "The Footsteps of Moshiach" [referencing the incense that Aharon used to stop the plague in the desert], and its letters break all concealment and turn curses into blessings.
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Learning Chitas is something that is in the realm of every Jew. Before the revelation of Chassidus, "learning" was limited to the Yeshiva Elite and the average Jew was not able to learn Torah. Why was it only until recent that such a formula was established? This I do not know but Chitas in one way or another was done by Chassidim before the Rebbe Rayatz (6th Lubavitcher Rebbe) set up an official system.

Chumash with Rashi has been learning for hundreds of years and is a topic of discussion in the Shulchan Aruch as to if Chumash with Rashi fulfills the Torah requirement of "shnayim mikra v’echad targum" Learning the text of the weekly parsha twice with the targum.

The simplest Jews have been saying Tehillim for hundreds if not thousands of years. One of the reasons being that while there are opinions that a person must know the words of Torah he learns, this is not the case with Tehillim as simply reciting the Hebrew has a power on its own which is why 75% or more of our davening is from tehillim.

Tanya while a new Sefer is nothing new as the Alter Rebbe says in the very beginning all he did was compile sources into a small book.

What is the value? If you find value in learning Torah then there is a great amount of value. If you do not ascribe to the Chassidic value of learning that is available to all of Klal Yisroel then your question should be reworded to whether learning Chitas is a good use of your time instead of learning Gemara with Tosafos and Poskim.

As a Chasid, I would say for any Jew it has immense value.

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Only Chassidim think all Jews should learn Torah?? –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 2:28
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@DoubleAA IF you look from a historical perspective, before Chassidus became mainstream the water carriers son who could not afford to learn in yeshiva and was not the brighest mind was not given access to learning. Today this is not the case of course but even up to the 30's when Chitas was become a formulized thing, you didnt have the masses of Jews learning outside of basic daily halacha. Please help me reword to not sound offensive to you as I am trying to not argue for no reason. –  user1292 Jul 18 '12 at 2:31
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Is that a question on the edit or in general? In general, I would say that daf yomi fits the bill. There are many many daf yomi classes in shuls even trains workplaces etc. not to mention the options available online that discuss the daf at various levels. Translation/elucidations like artscroll and steinzalts have also helped ease the common Jew into some gemara. FWIW wikipedia estimates 300000 participants in the last siyum hashas. –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 2:45
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That could be, but the program has certainly been adopted by the non-chassidic world as well, as a way of allowing more people to learn Torah. –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 2:54
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@mochinrechavim I disagree with your most recent comment. See the link in my most recent comment here (and see the timestamp on the comment linked to). (Not that there would be anything wrong if that was true: just because one doesn't know the correct answer doesn't mean one can't analyze someone else's answer for its value.) –  Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 6:29
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