On Shabbat, the first day of the month [Rosh Chodesh, designated] Times [i.e. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur], and the [three] Festivals, the fire in that place [of Purgatory] abates and they are not punished. But they [who desecrated these holy days] do not go out from there like the other wicked ones who have rest. All those who desecrate Shabbat and festivals and do not care about the honor of their Master at all to observe them, but rather desecrate them publicly, just as they do not keep Shabbat and festivals in this world, so they do not keep [Shabbat and festivals also] in that [upper] world and have no rest.

Rabbi Yosi said, "Do not speak so. They do observe Shabbat and festivals there in Purgatory against their will." Rabbi Yehuda said, "That refers to non-Jews, who were not commanded and do not observe Shabbat in this world, but do observe it there against their will."

At every beginning of Shabbat, when the day is sanctified, announcements are made in all these chambers of Purgatory: "Remove the punishments of the wicked, because the Holy King has come and the day is sanctified [in all the worlds, and judgment is removed from Purgatory] and He protects everyone." [Even the wicked who are in the kelipot are protected by the holiness of Shabbat.] Immediately, punishments depart and the wicked have rest [and heal from their illness and suffering].

Yet the fire of Purgatory does not depart from those who never kept the Shabbat. All the wicked ones in Purgatory ask about them: Why are these different from all the wicked ones that are here, for they have no rest? The administrators of judgment answer: They are the wicked ones who denied G‑d and they transgressed the whole Torah, because they did not observe the Shabbat, therefore, they never have rest.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Hida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

Uh-oh...We're in deep. It seems that down below to that place of fire-cleansing and refining, those of us who have not observed the Shabbat don't get a day of rest like the other folks who have missed the mark in other ways. For everyone else, the punishments incurred during the 6 weekdays are removed. But for the Shabbat transgressors, no relief at all on the day of ultimate relief. The goal of the Zohar here seems to be to motivate us to teshuvah for fear of punishment, the lowest level of return.

Certainly all of us can improve our Shabbat observance, whether in thought, word, or deed. And none of us is of the level as the renowned Gaon of Vilna who, as a youth, found out he touched an object forbidden on Shabbat and fainted.

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed right now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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