Chabad discourse on rationales for the commandments: Derekh mitsvotekha

Leore Sachs-Shmueli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Works detailing rationales for the commandments stand at the junction between speculative thought and daily life, interweaving nomos and Kabbalistic-Hasidic narrative. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the third Chabad rebbe, penned exactly such a text: Derekh mitsvotekha. This article provides a bibliographical-historical sketch of the work. It examines how its author crafted his unique position towards rationalizations of the commandments, strengthening their practical performance, and argues that Schneersohn expressed two vital stances towards divine service, both of which enhance commitment to divine law. I argue that Schneersohn sought to remould and reconstruct the Hasidic discourses of the first rebbe to provide Hasidic followers with inspirational-spiritual nourishment connected to the core of Jewish life and practices. Thus, eventually the Chabad literature came to include a whole library, adapting Kabbalistic traditions to provide followers with a comprehensive accessible theological framework and inspirational advice for enhancing all realms of their religious life.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)117-139
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Schneersohn, Menahem Mendel -- 1789-1866
  • Habad
  • Commandments (Judaism) -- History of doctrines


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