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There's a popular understanding that the Gra asked R Chaim of Volozhin to write a sefer based on his teachings that would deal with many points that the sefer Tanya dealt with and this is the Nefesh HaChaim.

  1. Is there a source to this story?
  2. If not, is it a given that what R Chaim writes in his book is what the Gra himself held to be true?
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I have heard that it is closer to Tanya with regards to the concept of tzimtzum then the Gra's understanding of tzimtzmum – Efraim May 18 '14 at 16:35
see this answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/718/2699 – Bochur613 May 18 '14 at 17:17
Rav Menachem Kasher in Torah Sheleimah, appendices to Parshas Shemos, considers R' Chaim's understanding of מלא כל הארץ כבודו to be congruent to that of the Baal HaTanya, unlike the strong opposing opinion of the Gra. – Murex May 23 '14 at 20:25
In the prefece to one of the prints of the Nefesh HaChaim on Hebrewbooks.org, this story is brought. Not sure that is much of a source, but it is there. They say the Gra never read the Tanya (he closed it after the first line because the standard version of the Gemara does not have the word Tanya), so I'm a bit skeptical that he asked his student to write a sefer refuting it. – Yishai Jun 18 '14 at 3:26
Very interesting. Do you know which nefesh hachayim I can find this at on hebrewbooks? – Gavriel Jun 19 '14 at 10:57

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