Shekalim 9 - 15
- Ritual impurity status of the blood of Rebbie’s mule
- The procedure for tithing the machatzit hashekel coins
- The spiritual benefits of being clean of suspicion and sin
- For what was the machatzit hashekel used?
- The holidays of the donors of wood to Beit Hamikdash
- The offerings which could only be from Eretz Yisrael grain
- How salaries of grain guards in seventh year were paid
- Which public needs were financed by the money tithed and which from the coins left behind?
- The bridge for the Red Heifer
- Can Sanctuary or charity officials do business for their cause with extra funds?
- What was done with leftover incense
- Use of animals which are part of possessions donated to the Beit Hamikdash
- Use of an animal designated for a sacrifice for which it does not qualify
- Dealing with suppliers of grain to Beit Hamikdash
- Who were the officials in charge in Beit Hamikdash and some stories connected with them
- The system for purchasing the flour, oil and wine for the offerings accompanying sacrifices
- The ideal way of giving charity to the poor
- The shofar-shaped collection boxes and the missing Holy Ark
The Wheel of Fortune
- Shekalim 15a
When Rabbi Yonah was aware of someone from a well-to-do background who had come upon hard times, he devised a strategy for extending help to him in a way that would not offend him.
“I heard that you have a large inheritance coming to you from somewhere,” he said to him, “and therefore I am lending you this sum of money which you will later return to me.”
Once the money had been accepted, Rabbi Yonah would say to him: “On second thought you don’t even have to pay me back.”
What this Sage did was what the Sages suggested as a way of persuading needy people to accept charity they need when they are reluctant to do so. But how could his original statement about being repaid be reconciled with his second one?
An interesting approach is suggested by the commentaries.
In Mesechta Shabbat (151b) we find that Rabbi Chiya told his wife that when a poor man comes begging she should rush to offer him a meal so that others will be as generous to her children when they are in need. When she was shocked by what she perceived as a curse of poverty, he explained that he was merely stating a fact of life hinted at in a particular word used by the Torah in its command to give charity (Devarim 15:10). That word can be read as galgal, a wheel, to indicate that poverty is like a revolving wheel, sometimes touching one family and sometimes another. Even if a person is prosperous he must pray that his offspring will not be poor and must give charity in a considerate manner so that if they are dependent on others they will be helped with dignity.
Rabbi Yonah cancelled the debt of his recipient so that he would not feel pressure to repay when the imaginary inheritance did not materialize. But he did hint that perhaps someday the “wheel of fortune” could turn and the receiver or his children would be the givers to his descendants.
What the Sages Say
“Whoever has established permanent residence in Eretz Yisrael, speaks lashon hakodesh (the holy tongue – Hebrew), eats produce only after it is tithed, and recites the Shma morning and evening can be confident that he is a candidate for the World to Come.”
- Rabbi Meir