Israel Forever

For the week ending 18 February 2012 / 24 Shevat 5772

The Half-Shekel Message

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

This Shabbat a second Sefer Torah will be taken out of the Aron Kodesh for the reading of Parshat Shekalim. We are thus reminded of the contribution which every male adult Jew gave for the construction of the Mishkan Sanctuary and every year for the purchase of animals to sacrifice on the Altar.

The sum of the contribution was a half-shekel and it was standard for all, rich or poor. Many interpretations have been suggested for the insistence on such standardization and the amount involved. One of these is very relevant to the current situation in Israel. When a Jew contributes half a shekel he senses that he needs another half-shekel – the effort of a Jew like himself – in order to be complete. This fosters a sense of unity which is crucial to Jewish survival.

It is sad that although the "silent majority" of Jews in Israelshares the basic values of Judaism, there is a noisy minority which promotes dissent and even hatred. Perhaps the message of the half-shekel will remind even them that we need not wait for war to unite our people but to rather practice the unity which will make us worthy of peace in Israel forever.

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