Likutay Torah and Torah Or are the two volumes of an anthology of deeply inspirational teachings in divine service (known as 'maamarim') by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (author of the Tanya). Each teaching explores themes relating to one of the Torah portions (parshios) or holidays of the year. They were originally intended to be published together as a set under the same title. However, after the first volume was printed under the title "Torah Or" in 1837, the printing press unexpectedly closed down. The second half of the set was not printed until eleven years later under the new title Likutay Torah. The first volume, Torah Or, contains teachings on the parshios from the books of Bereishis and Shemos and on Megilas Ester. Likutay Torah contains teachings on the books of Vayikra, Bamidbar, Devarim, Shir Hashirim, and the High Holidays from Rosh Hashana through Simchas Torah. The topics presented in these foundational works build upon mountains of holy Jewish scholarship and have since been explored and expanded upon in generations of Chassidic teachings.
This project publishes selections from both texts with translation and commentary, under the names "Lessons in Torah Or" and "Lessons in Likutay Torah". The goal is to gradually enable the English reader to meaningfully study Torah Or and Likutay Torah directly from the original text. The phrase-by-phrase translation and explanation serves to familiarize the reader with the words, structure, and concepts of the maamarim. Even more experienced students, who may be struggling with confusing or difficult passages, will find clarification in the commentary that draws upon references to the same concepts in other works of Chassidus. The commentary draws especially from other versions of the maamar, or maamarim which were written as explanations of the maamar, like those from the Mittler Rebbe and Tzemach Tzedek.
In addition, this series is a convenient resource to more easily study Chassidic thought on a regular basis. It is a common practice to study Torah Or and Likutay Torah on Shabbos morning for inspiration before prayer, and these lessons can aid in that practice. They are, of course, helpful for study any other time as well. An individual or group can learn a complete section from the maamar in a single sitting and reap inspiring practical lessons in the service of Hashem. Over the course of a few weekly study sessions, an entire maamar can be completed with a satisfyingly cogent understanding of the material.