IDF soldiers welcome Shabbat in Gaza
IDF soldiers welcome Shabbat in GazaIDF Spokesperson's Office

The Gemara in Yevamot (62a) says, “The Son of David won’t come until all of the souls from Heaven come down into this world.”

The Tosephot Yeshanim asks on this Gemara from another Gemara in Shabbat (118b) that says, “If the Jewish people hold two consecutive Shabbatot, they would immediately be redeemed.” He asks, how could we be redeemed immediately if all the souls from heaven haven’t come down yet? A different Tosephot answers this by saying that multiple births would occur as we saw in Mitzrayim (Egypt).

From this discussion, one can see the greatness of Shabbat, as it has the power to bring geulah. When the Chafetz Chaim was asked by people for berachot, he would say, “go to” Shabbat, for that is where berachah lies. We saw this firsthand when two kibbutzim that held Shabbat were spared from the October 7th massacre because their gates were barred. It’s no coincidence that after the massacre, Rabbi Zilberstein, shlita, recommended that everyone should take upon themselves two extra things to do for Shabbat.

Shabbat has another boundless quality. The Zohar notes that chiddushei Torah arrived at on Shabbos go back to Heaven with the neshamah yeteira and are celebrated by G-d and all the souls in heaven. Therefore, on Shabbos, whether you have one new insight, an innovative question that brings greater understanding or achieve greater clarity in a Gemara, in Heaven they will be dancing for you.

This would explain one reason why Shabbos is called mei'ein Olam Habah, a taste of the next world, for it is there that everyone sits and experiences the glory of G-d with His Torah.

When returning to this world and our inherent responsibilities, parsha Beshalach gives an opening. Rabbeinu Bachaye, in his introduction to the parsha, quotes the verse in Mishlei (17:3), “A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.”

In the example of the silver and gold, when refined or smelted, all of the worthless overlay falls away, and the true worth can be discovered. In the same way, G-d tests to see what our “true” worth is by testing our heart. What’s true worth? It’s putting in the work to arrive at righteous thoughts within the heart where the mouth and heart are equal, vacant of deceit.

There lies a direct hint in this verse as well that references how we became refined in Mitzrayim. Our Egyptian bondage was characterized as “kur habarzel” – the iron furnace.

We grew in Mitzrayim due to the intense labor. In the same way, if we work on our heart intensely, to purify its intentions, then we too can emerge with a pure heart.