There are infinite levels of depth and meaning in our Torah with profound implications for every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, we encounter them when we least expect. Let me give you an example from my work as a psychiatrist.

Recently, I saw an elderly woman who was feeling overwhelmed with the challenge of sorting through a lifetime of memories and possessions—cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer—while getting ready to move from her home to a very small unit.

That week I had been learning about the 39 melachot, the types of work utilized by the Jewish people in the construction of the Tabernacle, which are prohibited on Shabbat. One of these is borer or “sorting,” removing a bad or unwanted item from a mixture. On Shabbat, however, we are only permitted under certain conditions to select that which is good or wanted from that which is unwanted.

As I spoke with her, I reflected that in complex situations, we tend to focus first on the problems and difficulties, and feel that they all have to be dealt with before we can experience the good. Indeed this is sometimes necessary. The Shabbat approach, in contrast has an emphasis on the evolving positive from the beginning and is joyful by nature.

With this in mind, I suggested that she first make a list of what is precious and meaningful to her—those things that will facilitate and enhance her enjoyment of the next stage of her life, and to select those things first. Then she could sort through the things that were left, using the same approach.

Perhaps this change of approach to sorting on Shabbat is preparing us to think in a different way, for the Messianic era, a time our sages refer to as kulo Shabbat,1 “entirely Shabbat,” when darkness will fully be transformed to light, and we will move from positive to even more positive, from light to even greater light.