Once, at noon on a Friday, Rabbi Isaac Luria, the holy Ari, went to the mikvah (pool for ritual immersion) that was located next to the Safed cemetery. When he came out, he said to his protege Rabbi Chaim Vital that he was blind. After some time he spoke again and said he could now see. Rabbi Chaim asked him what had happened. He answered that he had been blinded by the souls of all of the righteous rising out of their graves as they moved towards heaven.

The sanctification of the world…does not begin only at candle lighting time or sunset, but rather at noon….

We learn a few things from this story: First, that the souls of the righteous do not stay in their graves on Shabbat. Second, that the sanctification of the world on the eve of Shabbat does not begin only at candle lighting time or sunset, but rather at noon. Similarly, the Kabbalistic tradition is that the souls do not return to their graves until midnight on Saturday night.

It is fine to say that Kabbalah hints to an aspect of Shabbat that lasts through Saturday night, but where do we find a source for this in the "revealed" Torah? In a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Shabbat parashat Beshalach 10 years ago, he pointed out that the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat (119b, and in the Code of Law, ch. 300) it is written that it is appropriate for a person to set his table in a Shabbat-like way for a meal on Saturday night; the commentaries explain that we should send off the Shabbat in an honorable fashion, as we would escort a king as he departs our city. There is a question here: When one escorts royalty, royalty is present - but in this case, by the time we eat the Saturday evening meal, called "melave malka" (literally "queen's escort"), Shabbat is already long over and the queen is gone!

We find our answer in relation to the manna - the food from Heaven during the 40-year sojourn in the desert, which is discussed in this week's Torah portion (16:14-24). A double portion of manna fell on Friday, leaving them enough food for a morning and evening meal on Friday, and for a morning (and afternoon) and evening meal on Shabbat, the evening meal being melave malka. (See Chizkuni 16:23). From the fact that G‑d blessed the Shabbat with a double portion of manna falling on Friday, we see that the blessing lasted through Saturday night!

The Shabbat queen is still with us on Saturday night….

We can conclude that there is a practical difference between the blessing of Shabbat and the sanctity of Shabbat (see Friday night Kiddush liturgy). While the sanctity of Shabbat lasts only during Shabbat, and as soon as we make havdala, the sanctity ends; the blessing of Shabbat extends into Saturday night. From this we see that the Shabbat queen is still with us on Saturday night. We see how the basis in the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch for melave malka is that meal that the Jewish people ate in the desert from the double portion of manna that fell on Friday.

Besides taking the mitzvah of melave malka more seriously, what else can we learn from this concept? Shabbat is the day when all of our efforts are focused on G‑d. We let nothing invade our Shabbat to diminish this focus. When we extend Shabbat into our week, we demonstrate that just as we can control our lives for the day of Shabbat, we control our lives even during mundane weekday activities.

This is why the "luz" bone, from which the Resurrection of the Dead will begin, is nourished only from the food we eat at the melave malka meal; because Mashiach and the Resurrection of the Dead will be a combination of This World and the World to Come, just as melave malka incorporates the holy Shabbat and the mundane week. Through this act of increasing holiness, we will hasten the arrival of Mashiach now!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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