Kuntres 25 Adar: Giving Over the Etzem

Kuntres 25 Adar was published in honor of the birthday of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, which in a regular year (not a leap year) comes out around parshas Pekudei.

The discourse is based on the posuk “these are the  accounts (pekudei) of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony, which was counted at the command of Moshe”.  The discourse discusses the difference between midos, which are essentially for another person (the mida of Chesed, for example, involves giving to someone else), and the intellect, which is essentially for the individual alone.  Midos are inherently revealed (even when they are still hidden in the heart), whereas intellect is inherently concealed (even when it is being given over to another).

This distinction is related to the difference between the two times “Mishkan” is mentioned in the verse, which also corresponds to Torah and Mitzvos as compared to Tshuva, which find expression in two levels of Tshuva (lower and higher). In addition, the verse mentions Moshe, who is the aspect of self-nullification (bittul) which unifies the two levels.  Worthwhile to see the maamor inside.

Most noteworthy to us is probably the following section of the maamor:

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… We can explain what is stated in Likkutei Torah [about this verse], that “pekudei” also has a meaning of “to be impregnated” and “seclusion”, as the sages say “a man is obligated to be with his wife [before departing on a journey]”.  It is explained elsewhere in Chassidus the [three marital obligations of providing] “her food, her wardrobe, and her marital relations (onasah): her food (nourishment) is giving over something that enclothes itself in the vessel of the recipient; her wardrobe (clothing) surrounds, which is a higher level; and onasah is giving over the essence, which is higher than the surrounding level of garments.

And we can add that the special quality of onasah is not only as regards a bestowal from above (that onasah is the giving over of the essence), but also as regards Yisroel, that they receive this bestowal not through a garment.  And we can say that this is what is meant by or sages when they said that “one who says ‘I [make a condition that our relations will take place with me] in my garment and she in her garment’ has to divorce and pay the kesuba”: that the negation of “I in my garment” is because the bestowal from Above is without a garment, and the negation of “she in her garment” is because receiving the revelation is not through a garment.

Here, as the Rebbe begins the year-long series of revelations of the year 5751-52, right at the beginning of the year-long cycle of Dvar Malchus, there is a clear statement about what is and will happen.  The “husband” (the Rebbe) is about to “go overseas” (at least visibly and audibly) and therefore he is going to fulfill his halachic obligation to “be with his wife” (the Chassidim) and give over the essence, the atzmus which is higher than either Sovev or Memaleh, and transcends intellect and emotion. How must this be done? “Without garments”, which in Chassidus refers to thought, speech, and action — without the familiar reference points, a completely different manner than the way the husband and wife relate the rest of the time.

The hint should be clear now (though surely it was not clear in 5751): the Rebbe in these Sichos and maamorim is giving over Atzmus — the essence of everything — before “going away for a while”* (at least in a revealed way).  And this creates a state of pregnancy, which leads to birth: a moshol for the true and complete Geuloh!

* There are those who tell being at a Simcha with the Rebbe’s mazkir R’ Binyomin Klein in 5754 (1994), when after a few lechayims R’ Klein revealed that the Rebbe had told him, shortly before Chof-Zayin Adar that he will be “going away for a while” (“איך גיי אוועק פאר א וויילע”) [heard from Mrs. Klar, who heard it from that mother of one of the bachurim who was there.]

Tazria-Metzora 5751: Spiritually Complete But Still Suffering Exile

Dvar Malchus Tzaria-Metzora 5751

This Generation is Completely Rectified; Remaining External Signs of Disease Can Be Rectified Through Torah—Learning About Moshiach Speeds Geulah.

For this sicha it is necessary to define the following terms: Tzora’as—a supernatural illness where certain types of lesions appear on the skin (not the physical disease of “leprosy”); Metzora—One who suffers from this illness (sometimes called a ‘leper’); Nega (plural: Negoyim)—the general name of the lesions associated with the disease.

Moshiach in Exile is Called “Metzora

With the completion of the month of Nissan of the year 5751 [when the sicha was spoken] “all the end times have passed” (“kolu kol hakitzin”): both ketz hayamim and keitz hayemin, in a simple sense (”kipshuto mamash”).   [Ketz Hayamim=the end of the “left side” of klipa; Ketz Hayemin=the end (meaning: the starting point) of the “right side” of holiness.]  This is in addition to the fact that the statement “kolu kol hakitzin” was said in the times of the Gemara. [The Rebbe is making clear that he is not merely quoting the gemara, but that something new has taken place that was not included in the intent of the sages.  The “Ketz HaYemin” is a most noteworthy expression, indicating more than the just end of exile, but also the beginning (although still concealed) of Geulah.]  The parsha Tazria begins with the words “a woman who gives seed and gives birth to a male”—this hints at the birth (revelation) of the soul of Moshiach.  Giving seed, this refers to our deeds and effort (“avodah”) in the time of exile, followed immediately by the sprouting—the complete Geulah.

Metzora refers to Moshiach; as our sages say: he bears our sicknesses.  The name of Moshiach in the time of exile is “Metzora”.  The opening words of this parsha, “This is the Torah of the metzora on the day of his purification”—the day of his purification, the day that his nega (skin lesion associated with tzora’as) is healed, meaning his condition when he is revealed and redeems the children of Israel in the true Geulah.

What is the connection?  Tazria is birth, meaning Geulah; metzora is one who needs to be brought to purification.  Seemingly, if the eternal Geulah is born, it is not related in any way to the state of a metzora, who is connected with exile.  However, the content of parshas Tazria is all about the various types of lesions of a metzora, a matter of exile.  And parshas Metzora teaches the laws of the purification of the metzora—the matter of Geulah.  Seemingly, it should be reversed.

Tzora’as—Illness After Completing Everything

The verse that begins to describe the illness of tzora’as states “A man who has a on the skin of his flesh…”  The word for man here is “Adam”, “Adam is a great level, the perfection of everything” (Zohar Tazria, 48a).  Although he has rectified everything, nonetheless, on the skin of his flesh the evil is still not refined, the waste material remains.  He has refined his nefesh and his body, only the ends of his garments are still not refined; but this is only an external matter.  [Let us recall that according to Chassidus the garments of the soul are thought, speech, and action.] This condition is not connected at all to the “essence” (etzem, atzmiyus) of the person, not even to his flesh which changes through eating and drinking.  It is only related to the skin which surrounds him externally.  And even this—there is a nega present on the skin (from the word “nogea”, meaning to touch—not even the skin itself is really affected).

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Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a non-leap year when Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshas] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year will be] Shmeina [fat]” — with material and spiritual abundance.  (And is drawn into all the years until the next time it will be read 8 times.)

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. The world derives from 7,  which represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Creation, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above the world (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.  This means the revelation above limitation being unified with limitation itself. When these two aspects are unified, the recipient beomes a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way — the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.  The Rebbe explains this in another Sicha:

The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed… Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)

We find this as well in the avodah of a Jew — there is his limited and measured avodah, as befits his level, to make himself into a vessel to internalize the revelations.  And additionally there is the avodah of “with all your might” (b’chol me’odecha) — a vessel to receive G-dliness above the limitations of the person.  The ultimate goal is the unification of these 2 forms of avodah.  To summarize: Shemini (8th) is the unlimited, whereas  Shmoneh (the number 8) is the unlimited as it is contained in the qualities of limitation (7): the unification of limited and unlimited, the ultimate intent of Creation.

The revelation of the level of G-dliness that is above the limitation of world is specifically via the avodah from below to above — within the limitations of the world.  As with the 8 which comes specifically from the 7 that precede it.  Thus we find that the limited and measured avodah is connected (in its source) with the highest level (above the source of the unlimited).  Similar to what we find with the Aron — the concept of “eino min hamida” (transcending limitation), comes specifically because the Aron had defined measurements.

Transforming the Exile (“gola”) Into Geuloh

Chesed and Gevurah are the spiritual root of limited and unlimited.  Chesed, is the attribute of “kindness” and giving.  Gevurah, the opposite.  The Alter Rebbe explains that it is  not tzimtzum (contraction and limitation), but rather the attribute of “might” that can overpower other forces (“hisgabrus haChayus”).  Gevurah is not the absence of Chesed, but rather a higher level of might that can conceal the ChesedGevurah brings about exile, but is itself a powerful level of Kedusha, as explained in Chassidus regarding the special quality of “the light that comes from the darkness”.

Geuloh, as explained many times in the Rebbe’s Sichos, is attained by adding to the word “gola” (exile) the letter “alef” (representing the Holy One, blessed be He “Alufo shel olam”).  This adding of the letter “alef” is accomplished via “our deeds and our avodah during the time of exile” upon which the Geuloh is dependent.  Through this, the exile itself (“gola”) becomes Geuloh.

 The main thing is that through “our deeds and our Avodah during the duration of exile” we bring the Geuloh.  It is specifically the concealments and limitations of exile which give the strength to bring Geuloh.

This is similar to statement of our Sages: “everyone who fulfills the Torah amidst poverty will in the end fulfill it amidst wealth.”  Via the poverty of exile, “there is no one who is poor except in knowledge” (“ein oni ela b’da’as”), we receive the true wealth of knowledge and wealth in the simple sense — in the true and complete Geuloh.  This is especially since we have already fulfilled any obligations to endure the limitation of “poverty” (in the previous generations) [meaning — primarily — poverty of knowledge].  Now there is freedom and abundance (“harchava”) in a simple sense from the kingship of the nations.  [For more explanation, see Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah #8.]

Thus, we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in a relaxed state of mind and body (“menuchas hanefesh and menuchas haguf”) with “wealth” in Torah — via the printing of many seforim, some of which had been hidden until now.  For this reason the Geuloh will have both the positive quality of Geuloh and the positive quality of Golus (the quality of avodah performed via compelling one’s self (“hiskafya”), limitation and constriction, “amidst poverty”…)

Geuloh Hasn’t Come — Proof That it Depends on Us

Since the Geuloh hasn’t yet come, this itself is proof that it is dependent on “our deeds and our avodah” of this generation.  It is specifically through avodah amidst boundaries and limitation and concealment (which derive from Gevuros), because amazing powers are hidden away within them — powers which can bring the Geuloh.

There is a rule that “The Holy One, blessed be He, does not demand of us more than we have the power to accomplish, so therefore we have the power to bring the Geuloh (since that is what is demanded of us).  To be a partner with Hashem in this, not just to help.  A partner implies being involved in all the details in a complete manner.  Since a Jew is a part of G-dliness (chelek Eloka) he possesses the greatest powers to bring about the greatest things — until even the command “be Holy because I am Holy”, upon which our Sages comment “Holy, like Me” — with certainty!

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All of us have the responsibility to add in avodah to bring Moshiach in actuality.  There is no room to rely on others — each one needs to do the avodah of “to serve my Master” by himself, and he is given the powers to do this.  How so?  By adding in Torah and Mitzvos — the revealed and the Pnimiyus, and fulfilling Mitzvos in an exemplary manner and influencing others to do the same.  Spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the latter especially brings about “the Master comes” — this is the King Moshiach.  And all of this amidst anticipation and yearning for the Geuloh.Shemini5751_AddInTorah2

Maamorim: The Big Picture

Interesting to note the sequence of the maamorim that were printed in 5751, the beginning of the year of Dvar Malchus:

Purim — The level of Purim: an awakening that leads to the downfall of the enemies of Israel (Haman, Stalin in 5713 after this maamor was said, Sadaam Hussein in 5751 when it was edited and printed), and ushers in the period of the ascendency of Mordechai, Esther, and the Jewish nation–while still in the place of exile.

25 Adar — The transmission of the essence from mashpia to mekabel, and it’s revelation, occurs specifically without garments (in a simple, Halachic sense, and also the revelations of thought, speech, and action).

Beis Nissan — The act of tzedoko is completed by actually giving money to the poor man; but the initial desire is only fulfilled when the recipient actually accepts the tzedoko and benefits from it.

11 Nissan — Tefilla leMoshe, the prayer of Moshe, is the prayer of a rich man who lacks nothing and possesses tremendous abundance.  If so, then what does he daven for? He davens that Yisroel (Malchus) should realize that they themselves are rich (spiritually, and from that is drawn down wealth into physicality as well).

18 Nissan — According to Halacha, birds require an additional degree of guarding than animals (not only walls, but also a roof) because they are able to “fly away”.  Similarly, the conceptions of the intellectual soul can also “fly away” to undesirable places, and therefore an additional level of caution is required (a degree that is unnecessary while guarding the animal soul).

 

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Dvar Malchus: Revelations from Above

Reb Menachem Zev Halevi Gringlass wrote to an acquaintance in Tammuz 5751, referring to the sichos and maamorim of “Dvar Malchus”:

Photo of Rabbis Gerlitsky, Hendel, Gringlass

Photo of Chabad Rabbonim of Montreal: R’ E. Gerlitsky, a”h; R’ Y. Hendel, a”h; R’ M.Z. Gringlass, a”h.

We stand now b’ezras Hashem, in the most serious period. The holy sichos and the discourses that are coming out (with the footnotes and sources) are truly revelations from Above. In truth we are not worthy of this at all, it is only by Divine Providence that we have merited to be the last generation of golus and the first of Geulah, and therefore, as the Baal Shem Tov explained on the verse “V’hu yechalkeluchoh” that Hashem Himself will make us vessels…

We must literally learn every single discourse 3-4 times at least and then think through its contents 7-10 times, at least half an hour every time, and only then maybe we can hope that something will stick, and the vessel will become a little bit clean….

source: Moshiach Weekly, expanded edition for Yud Shevat 5775, p. 18

Tzav 5751: Moshe “the G-dly Man” Has Power to Redeem Us

The sicha opens by mentioning that this Shabbos was Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos when we commemorate what the Shulchan Aruch calls “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.  This does not refer to the 10 plagues (9 of which already occurred by this time), but to the armed revolt of the first-born Egyptians who demanded from Pharoah and the elders of Mitzrayim that they let the Bnei Yisroel leave Egypt.  When Pharoah refused, the first-born took up arms and killed 600,000 Mitzriim.  The Rebbe is connecting this with the Gulf War (which ended 2 weeks before Shabbos Parshas Tzav), when the “first-born” (the strongest nations) took up arms against a tyrant who was threatening the Jewish nation.  Recall the words of the Shulchan Aruch: “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.

But the focus of this sicha is on the redeemer, on Moshe Rabbeinu.  What makes him singularly capable of redeeming the Yidden from golus Mitzrayim?  (And since “the first redeemer is the last redeemer” (Moshiach) — this applies also to the final redemption.)

The Rebbe explains that Moshe is uniquely qualified, and endowed with the ability, to bring the Geuloh.   To understand this, the Rebbe defines for us the meaning of Geuloh: “the revelation of G-dliness down below in the redemption from Egypt is in order that Yidden, as they are found in the world, can see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter.” Seeing the miracles (which began on Shabbos Hagadol) enable Yidden to have a Geuloh, “freeing them from the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world.” The miracles Hashem shows us are not an end to themselves, but are motivating and enabling us to march out of our state of golus by ourselves.

All of this comes about through Moshe Ish HaElokim — Moshe the G-dly Man (Tehillim, kapital 90).  By referring to him as a G-dly Man (איש האלקים) the Torah is indicating that Moshe unifies two levels: power above the world (Elokim) and the level of enclothing in the world (man).  Thus Moshe, possessing both these levels (“ish” and “Elokim”), is a connecting intermediary (ממוצה המחבר) who connects G-dliness with the world (being that he is openly connected to G-dliness even as he is also enclothed in the world).

More than that, the Rebbe explains a second “unification” indicated in the expression “Moshe ish haElokim”: the level of “Moshe” and the level of “Ish HaElokim”.  Moshe is the name he received when he was pulled from the waters of the Nile by Basya bas Pharoah: “I drew him from the water” (מן המים משיתיהו).  As explained in Chassidus, this is referring to the lofty level of Moshe’s neshoma, that it derives from the highest, hidden worlds (עלמא דאתכסיא), the world of Tohu which is likened to water.  According to this explanation, the level of “Moshe” is entirely above the world, G-dliness that has no relationship with the world.  “Ish HaElokim” (here we look at it as a single title) refers to the unification of “Ish” and “Elokim”, meaning the unification of world with the level of G-dliness that has a connection to world.  Moshe Ish haElokim unifies all these levels.

Although not mentioned in this sicha, the Rebbe explains in a maamar just how lofty the aspect of “Moshe” really is — not only higher than Elokim, but also higher than YKVK.  And the various levels of YKVK:

Sefer Hamaamarim 5718, parshas Shemini

Moshe reaches the Essence, Atzmus (עצמות) mamash.  The verse that states “and Yisroel saw the mighty hand that Hashem had used in Mitzrayim…[and they believed in Hashem] and in Moshe His servant” goes from the lower levels to the higher levels: “That Hashem did…” this is the lower name YKVK; “and the people saw Hashem…” this is the higher name YKVK; “and they believed in Hashem” this is the name YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And after that it says “and in Moshe His servant”, from which it is understood that Moshe is higher even than the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And therefore he has the power to unify and to draw down the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus [into the world] that it should shine openly.

This loftiness of Moshe generates not only miracles that are enclothed in nature (the name Elokim) but miracles completely above the way of nature.  And all of this is for us: that we will “…see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter…” and thus be freed from “the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world”.

All of the above is meant to lead us to perform our service of Hashem in a miraculous manner.  We must reveal the “Tzaddik” within us — not only the “Tzaddi”, but the “Tzaddik” (with the addition of the letter Kuf ק).  This implies using free choice to choose the side of holiness (“Tzadi” — “My side”), which has the power to elevate even those aspects which are “below the line”, just as the letter “kuf” has a leg which reaches “below the line”.  When the Yidden, who have free choice (due to being enclothed in wordly bodies), choose the side of holiness, their choice adds the “kuf” to “Tzadi”, making “Tzaddik”; this gives the power to transform the world and it’s inhabitants, that they should also agree.

Again, the Rebbe is repeating to us that the Geuloh is not a passive fireworks show of miracles, but rather it gives us the “green light” to get to work and reveal the redemption through our own actions.  This is assisted by our recognition of the miraculous state of the world, which occurs through Moshe the G-dly man, the first redeemer and the last redeemer.

Vayikra 5751: Miraculous Conduct

The sicha of Parshas Vayikra is the first sicha of the Dvar Malchus cycle (the sichos from Vayikra 5751 until Vayakhel 5752).  The focus of this sicha is a recurring theme in all the sichos from these 12 months: drawing the miraculous (which transcends nature) into the natural order of things.

The demonstration of this in our sicha is the special occurrence that occurs once in a few years: Rosh Chodesh Nissan comes out on Shabbos.  In such a year, three Sefer Torahs are removed from the Aron Kodesh to be read: the regular Sefer for the parsha, a second sefer for Rosh Chodesh, and a third sefer for the annual reading of  “Parshas Parah” prior to Pesach. The only other times 3 sefer Torahs are taken out are Simchas Torah (every year) and Shabbos Chanukah on Rosh Chodesh (not the case every year).

The 3 sefer Torahs of Simchas Torah are described by the Rebbe as “t’midin“, a regular offering in the consistent, fixed order of things.  The 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan in such a year as 5751, an infrequent occurrence, is in the category of “musafin“, something “additional” to the usual order of things. It is also implicit in the nature of the readings on those days: on Simchas Torah we read “Bereishis”, Hashem creating the world as it conducts itself according to nature; and, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan the first mitzva (counting the months) “החודש הזה לכם”, which the Rebbe refers to as the miraculous conduct of the world.  Not only that, but Nissan is called “the month of Redemption”, implying also a Redemption from conduct in accordance with nature, transcending those limitations and proceeding to miraculous conduct.

The Rebbe, as one might expect, emphasizes the unification of these two dimensions:

“the ‘miraculous conduct’ is drawn down and permeates (also) in the matters of the world in actual action… that the avoidah of actual deed in the matters of the world is not in the usual way, like natural conduct, but rather like miraculous conduct, above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”

The Rebbe, before our very eyes, has shifted the meaning of “miraculous” onto us.  This year of 5751, “it will be a year that I will show wonders” (תהא שנת נפלאות אראנו), follows the “year of miracles”, 5750 (תהא שנת ניסים), in which there were the miracles of the Gulf War, the end of Communism, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and swords into plowshares — great wonders “out there” in the world. But here in this Sicha the Rebbe is letting us know that the real focus is our miraculous conduct in Torah and Mitzvos — going beyond our own nature, beyond that to which we are accustomed, that our performance of Mitzvos should be “miraculous” compared to our nature and regular conduct (comparable to 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan).  In the Rebbe’s words: “the addition and meaning in avoidah in a way of  ‘miraculous conduct’ in the avoidah of each and every Jew…until the perfection of the avoidah…” 

The Rebbe even provides us with a practical example: giving tzedaka in a way that transcends limitations:

… Even after he has given properly for holiday needs (צרכי החג) — he needs to make an accounting that reflects the additional blessing he will receive from Hashem in the meantime [as a result of the tzedaka he gave for holiday needs], and therefore his maaser and chomesh obligation [tithing 10% and 20%] has increased as well, and thus he needs to increase what he gives for holiday needs. And more than this: he can and must add in giving for holiday needs (beyond maaser and chomesh) even before he sees the results of the increased blessing. The more he will increase his giving for the needs of the holiday, likewise the blessing of Hashem will increase with abundant wealth

Based on what was explained previously, the miracle is not the “abundant wealth” one will receive, but rather the miraculous conduct of giving tzedaka beyond his accustomed manner (which is what draws down the abundant wealth). In other words: we are the miracle. (And if we are not, then we had better to get to work and become the miracle in our performance of Mitzvos!)

The Rebbe’s emphasis here is on doing things “not in the usual way…but rather…above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.” We can recognize how this is a fitting “opening statement” to the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in which the Rebbe introduces us to the concept of “living with Geuloh”, transcending the previous generations in this respect.  And even  more fitting when we contemplate that these sichos of Dvar Malchus are also a prelude to the events of Chof-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, which brought about a dramatic “paradigm shift”: the centrality of “taking orders” becoming eclipsed by the necessity of “taking initiative” — a shift which demands going “above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”