B”H - Parashat Ki Sisa 5768 : “The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel,” (Ex. 30:15)

A month from now we will have the holiday of Purim, on the 14-15th of Adar II. This week we had Purim Katan, which fell on the 14-15th of Adar I. This week’s parasha has a special connection to the holiday of Purim and the month of Adar. Part of this week’s parasha will be read again in a special reading two weeks from now, for which we will bring out two Torahs on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh. What is the connection? The Half Shekel.

This week, and in the special reading two weeks from now, we will read about the special collection of the half shekel. The purpose behind the collection was to take a census of the Jewish people in the desert. Since it is forbidden to count Jews in an ordinary manner, by counting each half shekel, we are able to determine how many people there are. The Gemara in Megillah (29B) and the first mishna in Shekalim tells us that these funds that are collected are to be used for communal purposes. Same too, the shekels collected in this week’s parasha were used for the bases of the pillars in the Mishkan, which would be used to communal sacrifices.

The Torah commands that the wealthy are prohibited from giving more, as the poor are prohibited from giving less. Why is each equally forbidden? This collection was not taken up for the purpose making the Mishkan as beautiful as possible, but rather for each person to be counted equally in the core communal building. Why should it have been half of a shekel? Perhaps a whole shekel might have made more sense, and would be easier to count. With a half shekel, a partnership must be made in order for a unit of one to be made. Each person is not giving as an individual, but as part of a communal team.

The same idea can still be seen today. Power is given to the masses. Still today, we must come together in pray in a minyan of ten. A Beis Din, Judicial Court, must come together as a minimum of 3. Even witnesses and marriages come in a pair. By coming together as a unit, rather than as an individual, our potential is maximized.

The pillars of the Mishkan are only as strong as the base in the foundation. The half shekels were used to create the bases. Without these bases the pillars would not have been able to hold up the Mishkan. Thus it is the entire community, each coming together equally, which keeps the Mishkan standing firmly. Because of this, the Divine Presence had a place to dwell in this physical world. Even now in today’s world, when we come together as a community and show a sense of brotherhood, the Divine Presence can rest amongst us. The rich don’t need to give more, nor the poor less. The point is that we come together as the nation of Hashem.

Good Shabbos! Nadav Simcha Reis Feel free to send this to someone you think would enjoy it and to someone you think would not. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. http://groups.google.com/group/TorahSparks

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