Half perfect (/are Jews that stingy that they can’t afford a whole shekel?!) As the start of our sedra tells us, the (male) members of Bnei Yisrael were to give a half-shekel donation to the Mishkan. Why a half-shekel?

The Alshich explains that the half is to remind us that we are not complete -

we are still working towards completing ourselves. Alternatively, the half-shekel was for the Mishkan,

which, in turn, atoned for the chet ha’egel. And since the women did not sin in the chet ha’egel, the shekel-per-household was reduced to half a shekel - for only the men needed atonement for having sinned.

In fact, the Ba’al HaTurim (30:13) writes that ‘shekel’ has the same gematria as ‘nefesh’ (soul), for the half-shekel donation ‘came to atone for the soul.

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