As is known, the Toras Shmuel series of the Rebbe Maharash [his Chassidic discourses] was prepared for print in two ways. Part of it was reprinted in square letters, while the other part was copied from the manuscripts transcribed by Reb Shmuel HaKosev, and one who is unaccustomed to reading manuscripts will have difficulty deciphering them.
The Rebbe related to me that once his father-in-law [the Previous Rebbe] said [concerning the reprinting of the Rebbe Maharash’s works]: “Enough of bringing the water trough to the horse; we should start bringing the horse to the water trough.”
The Previous Rebbe seems to have meant: Why is it always necessary to make it easier and easier for people to learn Chassidus? It’s time people stopped looking for shortcuts and started being ready to expend effort unaided.
In practice, we know that the Rebbe did not follow this approach. The Rebbe instructed that all the manuscripts of Chassidus, including those of the Rebbe Maharash, be reprinted in easily legible square Hebrew letters; likewise, the Rebbe encouraged other similar “shortcuts” such as indexes (cf. Hisva’aduyos 5751, Vol. 3, p. 164) and, of course, translations.
However, I submit that there is no contradiction (G-d forbid) between this practice and the words of the Previous Rebbe.
For people on a lower level, aids are indeed needed. Some people do not have the patience to decipher a manuscript, so that manuscript needs to be printed in square letters, translated, and the like. Otherwise, these people will simply be deprived of these holy teachings, for they will not study it in its original form. Likewise, they are at the point that they will not pursue other learning opportunities if they are not spoon-fed.
However, many people who should have passed this stage, are still stuck in it. Instead of these devices helping them, as it does for the first category of people, these devices burden them and hold them back from true inner growth. For instead of being ready and even eager to expend effort at serving Hashem themselves, they are constantly on the lookout for the easy way out. They have grown so used to receiving assistance that they are averse to expending effort, especially when it continues for an ongoing period of time.
About them the Previous Rebbe said: “Let the horses go to the water-trough.” Those horses that are able to go to the water trough, should not be indulged and have the trough brought to them. They should be encouraged to do the work of walking to the water-trough on their own.
Likewise, those chassidim who are able to serve Hashem on a more advanced level should do so without seeking aids. I’m not declaring that one should never use an aid; it can be a useful timesaver at times. Rather, I’m suggesting that the Previous Rebbe means to say that in general a true chossid should not depend upon them.