“When Rav Hamnuna would ascend from the river on erev Shabbos, he would lift up his eyes to see the angels of the weekday departing and the angels of Shabbos descending” (Zohar, Terumah 136b). The Arizal infers from this that it is a mitzvah for a man to im¬merse himself in a mikvah on erev Shabbos. In doing so he receives his neshamah yeseirah, the extra portion of his soul (Shaar Hakavanos 62).
Going to the mikvah on erev Shabbos elevates us out of the weekday mindset. The Arizal wrote that when going to the mikvah on erev Shabbos, a person should go under the water twice – once to remove the “garments” of the weekday and the second to “don the special clothing” of Shabbos. Immersing once again on Shab¬bos morning brings us fully into the domain of Shabbos, when the second half of the neshamah yeseirah descends (Shaar Hakavanos 62).
The Maharal describes a similar phenomenon in regard to tefillah. In order to enter the realm of prayer one must first go through a door, exiting from the mundane trivialities of everyday living. After he has passed through this, he is ready to go through the second door, the entranceway into appropriate prayer (Maharal Nesivos Olam – Nesiv H’avodah 5).
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org