Parshas Beshalach: The Heavens, Earth, Dreams and Reality
The Gemara in Yevamos (62a) says, “The Son of David won’t come until all of the souls from Heaven come down into this world.” The Tosephos Yeshanim asks on this Gemara from another Gemara in Shabbos (118b) that says, “If the Jewish people hold two consecutive Shabbosim, 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 Tosephos answers this by saying that multiple births would occur as we saw in Mitzrayim.
From this discussion, one can see the greatness of Shabbos, as it has the power to bring geulah. When the Chafetz Chaim was asked by people for berachos, he would say, “go to” Shabbos, for that is where berachah lies. We saw this firsthand when two kibbutzim that held Shabbos were spared from the October 7th massacre.
It’s no coincidence that after the massacre, Rabbi Zilberstein, shlita, recommended that everyone should take upon themselves two extra things to do for Shabbos.
Shabbos 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.
This is how one wanted to explain an incident that occurred with my later relative, Rav Avrohom Genechovsky, zt”l. A year after his mother passed, he wrote a sefer in her zechus. Shortly after, his mother appeared to another talmid chacham, to which she told that the question he asks in his sefer has already been answered in her son’s sefer. The next day the talmid chacham called Rav Avrohom and in fact he did ask that same question and gave an answer. This person wanted to explain this incident based upon the above-mentioned Zohar. Chiddushim are celebrated in Shamayim and that’s how his mother knew Rav Avrohom’s chiddush existed.
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 slabs fall 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? Righteous thoughts within the heart where the mouth and heart are equal, vacant of deceit. He notes that our heart is in the middle of our body and is the center of our existence. There lies a great hint in this verse as well on how to rectify the shortcomings of our heart. Mitzrayim is referred to 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.
Beshalach tests us in this way as well. G-d could have led us directly to the land, but He wanted to test our heart and faith within. Would we be willing to trek in the midbar and put our trust in the Maker? Through many tribulations, we eventually made it to Eretz Yisrael. We can make it to the geulah as well with sincere introspection and the molding of the heart.