Shabbat Shekalim

Shabbat Shekalim is one of the four special Shabbatot leading up to the Holiday of Pesach. Shabbat Shekalim is the first of the four in a chronological order. It has a special Haftarah and a special Maftir and the regular Parasha. It is always read on the Shabbat prior to Rosh Chodesh Adar or in Leap Years prior to Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet.

The Maftir is 5 Verses from Exodus Chapter 30. They are Verses 11 - 16.

Here are the verses and their translations. In my opinion they are grossly mistranslated as we shall see.

וידבר יהוה אל-משה לאמר

כי תשא את-ראש בני-ישראל לפקדיהם ונתנו איש כפר נפשו ליהוה בפקד אתם ולא-יהיה בהם נגף בפקד אתם

זה יתנו כל-העבר על-הפקדים מחצית השקל בשקל הקדש עשרים גרה השקל מחצית השקל תרומה ליהוה

כל העבר על-הפקדים מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה יתן תרומת יהוה

העשיר לא-ירבה והדל לא ימעיט ממחצית השקל לתת את-תרומת יהוה לכפר על-נפשתיכם

ולקחת את-כסף הכפרים מאת בני ישראל ונתת אתו על-עבדת אהל מועד והיה לבני ישראל לזכרון לפני יהוה לכפר על-נפשתיכם

Regular Translation

And HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying:

chanoch suggests that after you finish reading this page take the link to his commentary about this very usual/unusual verse from the Tanach. It is unique in that it is constantly being repeated sometimes as a stand-alone verse and sometimes as a phrase within a verse. It also sometimes has Aaron added to the verse as well. It is a verse that begs to be analyzed from the kabbalistic perspective.

"When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, according to their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto HaShem, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary--the shekel is twenty gerahs--half a shekel for an offering to HaShem.

Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering of HaShem.

The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of HaShem, to make atonement for your souls.

And thou shalt take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before HaShem, to make atonement for your souls."

Chanoch's Translation

HaShem spoke to Moshe, Saying

If one takes from the Heads of the Children of Israel, a ransom, one must count the ransom for his soul. that each man gives to HaShem to ransom his soul, that there not be a plague among them. Whenever you count them.

They shall give - every one that will be connected to the Light - 1/2 Shekel of the Holy Shekel. The shekel is 20 Gerahs - 1/2 Shekel for an offering to HaShem.

Every clean one connected to the Light over the age of twenty will give HaShem's offering.

The important ones shall not give more and the lacking ones shall not give less than the 1/2 Shekel, when making HaShem's contribution, which is a request to forgive their Nefesh/Soul.

And you shall accept the request for forgiveness money from the children of Israel, and use it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a remembrance for the Children of Israel before HaShem to request forgiveness for your souls.

Chanoch's Commentary

This translation should help you answer the question asked in the email if it will be necessary to continue the 1/2 Shekel donation after the Third Temple is revealed. Will we still need forgiveness?

Shekalim Discussion from 5773 E-Mail

This Shabbat is the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Adar. During Temple times on Rosh Chodesh Adar there would be an announcement reminder to donate your half shekel to the Temple. This money was to be used as an annual census as well as used towards the Temple Maintenance. Today there is a Kabbalistic Minhag to donate to your favorite email writer or Kabbalah website the equivalent amount in today's dollars. That is $17 (gematria of tov-good). This money was a requirement during Temple times to be donated prior to Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the anniversary of the dedication of the First Temple.

What is the spiritual reason behind this ½ Shekel?

There are actually two questions that must be asked in order to understand the spiritual reasons. Question 1 and its corollary: Why is the amount a ½ Shekel? And Why can someone not give more than ½ shekel?

Let me answer the second question first. The usual answer given to this question is that we are all equal in the eyes of HaShem. Of course this is true. Yet there is a deeper understanding than the surface level of these words. HaShem created all of us to reveal His Light. Therefore in the eyes of HaShem equal means revealing his light. It is not limited to the American understanding of equal being equal under the law. Or the limited meaning of equal being equal right to pursue happiness. In the eyes of HaShem equal means reaching the level where the pursuit of happiness is the effect of happiness. When we reach the level of “loving the process” we reach the answer to the other question of why it's a 1/2 Shekel.

A Shekel is 20 Gerah. Gerah is a root that means to initiate, to stimulate, to encourage, and to provoke. In money a Gerah stimulates additional money. This is why in the physical world it is said that money makes money. A Gerah is the smallest coin in the money of the Torah. Smallness implies a lessening of the ego which allows a greater connection to the Creator.

½ a Shekel is 10 Gerah. This ten represents the level of the 10 Sefirot which are not 10 but a unity of one. A ½ Shekel leads to a full shekel. It is hinting at “if one is leading to another one than there can be unity among the two.” And also a ½ shekel teaches that we must lead ourselves to help the other half of the Shekel. We must realize that we are not alone. There is me and there is you, or there is me and there is HaShem since each person is a channel and tool of HaShem except for myself. My ego of being ½ a Shekel keeps me from being unified with HaShem. Of course when I unify with another by sharing, I become unified with them which makes me unified with HaShem. This is the idea of unity within diversity.

A new section added in Adar Beit 5774

A question that also needs to be added from the reading of the Maftir is "What is the meaning of a shekel Hakodesh - a Holy Shekel?" To answer this question, we need to truly understand the concept of money. You are going to find this discussion very interesting.

The Meaning of Money

We all know that many people find money an item that they worship as in Avodah Zarah or idol worship. In that sense it is not a good thing. People make money the item of pursuit. They desire money for its own sake not for what they can do with it in the form of sharing.

King Solomon said "and money answers everything." Since it does not seem to buy happiness or enjoyment we must ask what King Solomon means. In Hebrew, money is kesef spelled כסף. Kesef, the Talmud tells us, is a coin system (Today it includes banknotes and wire transfers as well). This coin system is a medium of exchange created by a government and supported by the people. If the Kesef loses the support of the people we get a new government. This has happened many times in history. The coin called a Holy Shekel is created by HaShem and will never lose the support of the people.

Actually, the money in the Torah is indexed to silver. Today a Holy Shekel has the value of 8 grams of silver. Below we will see the relationship from kesef to silver.

Historically money includes Silver coins alongside Gold coins. The Talmud discusses the exchange of money for goods. In that discussion the Aramaic terms used are currency/money טבעא and goods פירא. Literally the word for goods is the word for fruit. The Talmud asks the question when one exchanges gold coins for silver coins or vice versa, which is the money and which the goods. The answer is Gold is goods and Silver is money. On a physical level this is why the Shekel is made from silver.

As King Solomon said money answers everything. This is the concept of trade where a monetary value is put on everything. Therefore, a medium of exchange is created. If someone wants something and is willing to pay for it at the number of coins a market is created. It is interesting to note that in gematria the word for coin + the word for fruit is equal to the word for chaos. This in my opinion is the meaning of King Solomon. "Money answers everything going round and round to create chaos."

Kabbalah teaches that silver is Chesed or Loving Kindness while gold is Gevurah or Judgment. A spiritual person has a desire for loving kindness over judgment we are taught. This is the spiritual reason for Kesef to be made from silver. Since the desire for loving kindness is money while the desire for physical goods brings us to judgment.

Of course a human soul can not be bought. Yet HaShem in his mercy allows us to atone with a 1/2 shekel of silver. This 1/2 shekel being 10 Gerar represents the creation of a completed structure of Loving Kindness - Chesed with 10 levels or Sefirot. This is why we continue to donate the 1/2 shekel even while the Temple appears to be destroyed. This donation connects us to the loving kindness of HaShem since HaShem is perfect and His nature is Loving Kindness or Sharing.

In practice the Ashkenazim follow the practice of mourning for the Temple and do not avail themselves of this Mitzvah. The Sefardim do donate the 1/2 Shekel. The present value of a 1/2 Shekel (8 grams of silver) is approaching $22. Yet in the interest of a merchant we discount this to $15 so as to entice some people to donate their Tzedakah to this practice and help themselves.

It is the common practice to make this donation prior to Purim. Of course it can be made any time prior to Rosh Chodesh Nissan. If you are reading this after Purim and before Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we at Yeshshem will still do this ritual of raising 5 silver coins - one for each world - from Malchut to Keter five times. The result is we are connecting or reconnecting the soul of the person to HaShem. Please for your own sake consider doing this ritual or allowing Yeshshem to do so by making the discounted Tzedakah of $15.00 per person. Just send us the person's name and his parents' names. At the present time (5776) my address is Chanoch Ben Yaakov or Henry Borenstein 3156 Howell Mill Rd, Ga 30327. You may include children and grandchildren.

The donation to the Temple allows me to become unified with HaShem because the effect of these donations improved the physical structure of the Temple.

When the third Temple is revealed, will the ½ Shekel donation still be required? I will leave this to you to answer.

In a 5774 - 2014 email i asked, "How does the 1/2 Shekel relate to both Purim and Nissan?"

The reason appears to be separate but is really the same reason. Nissan is the New Year of the Kings. For most people this means that they started to count the years of the reign of a king on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This relates to someone being elevated to being King in Israel in the month of Adar. The King would start his second year on Rosh Chodesh Nissan even if he had not completed a full 12 months in his first year. This is one of the reasons that the historical classification and calculation of years is so complex.

This is how the 1/2 Shekel relates to Nissan - See above. Now see how it relates to Purim - See below.

In the Megillah Esther - the revelation of the concealed Haman paid 10,000 golden Shekels in order for his plan to "kill all the Jews" be approved by King Ahashverosh. Later the Megillah hints that Mordechai found it necessary to bribe the King to send out the protection plan. The midrash teaches that this payment was made from the 1/2 Shekels that the Sefardic Community made then and still make today.

Also, the midrash explains that the mistake that the Jews made that caused Haman's plan to be accepted in the upper worlds was going to the 6 months of partying where Ahashverosh took out his "spoils of war" like the Clothing of the High Priest from the Temple and the other items like the Menorah and Table. By not objecting to these displays they incurred the death penalty and by using the 1/2 Shekel donation they atoned for their mistake and returned to HaShem.

Haftarah Discussion

The Haftarah is Kings Bet Chapter 11 Verse 17 to Chapter 12 Verse 17.

In the Scrolls, this is essentially two paragraphs. (Spaces create Paragraphs in the Scrolls.) The simple story has included within it a change in the way the 1/2 Shekel offering was collected and accounted.

Additional Information from 5766 study of the Shekalim

From the Zohar Beraisheet A Section 40 - Waters Conceive and Give Birth to Darkness

Pasook 387. from the Zohar Sulam Commentary on Parasha Beraisheet

רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אֲמַר טִיפְסָא דְּשִׁיקְלָא בְּאֶמְצָעִיתָא קַיְימָא, וְסִימָן בְּמִדָּה בְּמִשְׁקָל וגו'. מִשְׁקָל לִישָׁן דְּקַיְימָא בְּאֶמְצָעִיתָא, וְרָזָא דָא שֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ כְּתִיב, וּמֹאזְנַיִם בֵּיהּ קַיְימָן וְאִתְקָלוּ, מָאן מֹאזְנַיִם, כד"א מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק, וְכָלְהוֹ קָיְימִין בְּמִשְׁקָל, בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אֲמַר בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ, דָּא רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ.

Transliteration

Please use a Transliteration tool to read the Aramaic Verses. This enhances the energy transfer since it uses both sight of the Hebrew Letters and Sound as well. You may find a transliteration tool on the dailyzohar website or through an internet search for "Hebrew Transliteration".

Translation

Rabbi Yosi said: The tip of the scales stands in the middle. Its portent may be found in the verse, "In weight, or in measure" (Vayikra 19:35), in which "in weight (Heb. mishkal)" means that the tongue of the scales is in the middle, because the scales are just. This is the secret of what is written: "After the shekel of the sanctuary" (Shemot 30:13); and the scales that weigh the Mochin are set upon the point in the middle. He asks: What are the scales by which, as you say, the Mochin are weighed? He answers, This is according to what is written: "Just balances" (Vayikra 19:36), meaning that justice is weighed by them. And all Mochin are established by this weight "after the shekel of the sanctuary." Rabbi Yehuda said that the phrase: "After the shekel of the sanctuary (lit. 'holy shekel')" is an allusion to the Spirit of holiness.

chanoch's Commentary

This verse hints to the 1/2 Shekel offering since this offering has the purpose of redeeming the soul to create holiness. The offering is the half shekel which is a hint to us to realize that we are never alone. HaShem is always with us. Also, that we need other people to learn / help in our spiritual tikune. We also learn from the half shekel that redemption of our souls depends on others to inject the consciousness of holiness

To Bless or Not to Bless, That is the Question

A remarkable thing happened on the way to the Temple. With the imminent restoration of the fulfillment of the Commandment of giving a Holy Half-Shekel, the question arose; "What blessing do you say when you give the Half-Shekel?"

We asked high and low, and found that no one knew. We set out to find the answer and several weeks ago were rewarded with the teachings of the RaShBa (13th century), which informed us that indeed, there is no blessing recited. Okay we said, although I had personally felt there should be a blessing, as it is the fulfillment of a Torah Commandment in and of itself. So we posted our findings and announced that no blessing is recited. And we did not stop searching. We went back another 100 years and what do we find? Rabbi Yehudah ben Yakar (12th century) not only teaches that we do make a blessing, he even brings down its text. Amen!

Now the good stuff starts. We will have to extract a P'sak Din (Halachacic ruling) from today's Rabbanim, informing us of which opinion is the accepted one. Do we make a blessing or not?

Perhaps prior to the rebuilding of the Temple we don't, and once it stands, we do. Or perhaps the fulfillment of the Commandment is fully carried out in its giving, thereby allowing for a blessing even prior to rebuilding the Temple. Stay tuned ...

chanoch's Commentary

Whenever there is a machlochet - argument for the sake of heaven - the Halacha is to not say the Blessing and that is what we do now in the Kabbalistic Minhag.

Teachings Regarding the Blessing for the Half-Shekel

RaShBa we don't

Rabbi Yehudah ben Yakar we do

Chacham Zvi for Trumat Halishka we do

Sefer Zichron Eleazer we don't

Sefer Shem MeShimon we don't

Information on the term MaHaSheet HaShekel

The Hebrew Name of the half shekel Offering is MaHasheet Hashekel מהצית השקל.

When we permute the word MaHasheet we get a middle letter Tzadi which balances the Name of HaShem Yood Hey from the word Met which means death. This allows us to translate the word as "the Tzadik stands between life and death." The word shekel can be translated as "passion of the light".

What we learn from this discussion is that "by giving MaHasheet HaShekel we bring the passion of the light to assist the Tzadik to stand against death and promote life. This is why it is important to make the 1/2 shekel offering.

Can the Half Shekel Offering be given when the Temple is destroyed?

Responsum of HaRav Yisrael Ariel

The Temple Institute, Jerusalem

Question: ... I would appreciate your replying to my question can the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel be fulfilled with Torah validity at the present time?

Response: It is widely known that after the destruction of the First Temple the Jews returning from Babylonia, upon reaching the country, rebuilt the altar and offered sacrifices up on it for twenty-two years, before the Temple was rebuilt. The question arises: How did the Babylonian returnees contribute the MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel and how did they bring sacrifices for the altar, for the Second Temple had not yet been rebuilt, and the commandment of sh'kalim can only be fulfilled in the presence of the Temple (Shekalim 8:8)?

However, halakha rules, without dispute, that sacrifices are offered up even when the Temple itself is in ruins, as Rabbi Yehoshua is quoted in Tractate Eduyot (8:6) "I heard that [sacrifices] are offered up though there is no Temple", and as Maimonides adduces in his Hilkhot Beit Ha-Behira (2:4 and also 6:15). In light of this halakha, it can be understood why Second Temple officials collected MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel from the returnees as they arrived, rebuilt an altar and offered sacrifices up on it, for the offering up of sacrifices is not conditional upon the Temple itself being rebuilt.

Regarding the Mishna which states that the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel applies "in the presence of the Temple", the Mishna is indicating a period of time, i.e., the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel applies only "in the Temple period", i.e., when preparations are being made to rebuild the Temple, MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel is collected, though the Temple itself is as yet in ruins, while, at the same time, initial steps are taken for the rebuilding of the altar, for the offering-up of sacrifices and for the reconstruction of the Temple building. The obligation to donate MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel even before the rebuilding of the Temple has begun derives from the Torah source of the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel: "This they shall give ... half a shekel [measured] in the holy shekel's and to give the money of atonement ... and you shall give it for the worship in the Ohel Mo�ed," i.e., the money is needed for the purposes of erecting the Sanctuary and its ritual. In other words, the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel is a preliminary step before the Sanctuary is erected.

The Talmud Yerushalmi states (Shekalim 1:1) regarding MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel �Three contributions are mentioned in this context [in Teruma and in Ki Thissa] the contribution of the Sanctuary for the Sanctuary can be of any amount found suitable; the contribution of Shekalim for the sacrifices can be of any amount found suitable; and the contribution of the Foundations for the foundations: the rich may bring no more, and the poor no less�. The three contributions in the verse are the basis and the infrastructure for building the Sanctuary and for the offering-up of the sacrifices, without which there would be neither Sanctuary nor altar worship.

At any rate, even at the present time, the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel precedes the rebuilding of the Temple, and just as in the days of the Sanctuary and in the early days of the Second Temple Period, the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel served to initiate the construction of the Temple, so should it be with the building of the Third Temple may it be built speedily, in our days! the first step should be the fulfilling of the commandment of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel.

When the time comes, G-d willing, the appropriate agency will announce the collection of MaHatzeet Ha-Shekel. The altar will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount and the kohanim will begin to offer up sacrifices. While the worship is in progress, the builders will complete the construction of the Temple upon its foundations just as the people of the Second Temple Era succeeded in doing.

Half Shekel and Marriage

The first marriage of which we read in the Torah is the marriage of Adam and Eve. Theirs, of course, was a marriage wholly made in Heaven: G‑d Himself created the bride, perfumed and bejeweled her, and presented her to the groom. The first instance in which the Torah tells the story of a marriage achieved by human effort is in the chapter that describes the search for a bride for Isaac. Here are detailed the workings of a conventional shidduch: a matchmaker (Abraham’s servant Eliezer), an investigation into the prospective bride’s family and character, a dowry, the initial encounter between the bride and groom, and so on.

The Torah, which often conveys complex laws by means of a single word or letter, devotes no less than 67 verses to the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca. Many of the details are related twice—first in the Torah’s account of their occurrence, and a second time in Eliezer’s speech to Rebecca’s parents. For here we are being presented with a prototype to guide our own approach to marriage—both in the conventional sense as the union of two human beings, and in the cosmic sense as the relationship between G‑d and man.

Half of Twenty

One of the details which the Torah includes in its account is the fact that a ring, a half-shekel in weight, was one of the gifts that Eliezer presented to Rebecca at their meeting at the well in Rebecca’s hometown of Aram Naharayim.

The man took a golden ring, a half-shekel in weight; and two bracelets of ten shekels’ weight of gold for her hands. (Genesis 24:22)

Our sages explain that this was an allusion to, and the forerunner of, the half-shekel contributed by each Jew towards the building of the Sanctuary. As G‑d instructs Moses in the 30th chapter of Exodus:

Each man shall give the ransom of his soul to G‑d. . . . This they shall give: . . . a half-shekel. . . . A shekel is twenty gerah; a half-shekel [shall be given] as an offering to G‑d. . . . The rich man should not give more, and the pauper should not give less, than the half-shekel . . .

Why half a shekel? Maimonides writes that as a rule, everything that is for the sake of G‑d should be of the best and most beautiful. When one builds a house of prayer, it should be more beautiful than his own dwelling. When one feeds the hungry, he should feed him of the best and sweetest of his table. . . . Whenever one designates something for a holy purpose, he should sanctify the finest of his possessions, as it is written (Leviticus 3:16), ‘The choicest to G‑d’” (Mishneh Torah, Hil. Issurei Mizbe’ach 7:11).

Indeed, in many cases Torah law mandates that the object of a mitzvah (Divine commandment) be tamim, whole: a blemished animal cannot be brought as an offering to G‑d, nor can a blemished etrog be included in the Four Species taken on the festival of Sukkot. Even when this is not an absolute requirement, the law states that whenever possible, one should strive to fulfill a mitzvah with a whole object. For example, it is preferable to recite a blessing on a whole fruit or a whole loaf of bread, rather than on a slice (hence our use of two whole loaves at all Shabbat and festival meals).

Why, then, does the Torah instruct that each Jew contribute half a shekel towards the building of a dwelling for G‑d within the Israelite camp?

The Torah’s repeated reference to this contribution as a “half-shekel” is all the more puzzling in light of the fact that in these very same verses the Torah finds it necessary to clarify that a shekel consists of twenty gerah. In other words, the amount contributed by each Jew as “the ransom of his soul” was ten gerah. Ten is a number that connotes completeness and perfection: the entire Torah is encapsulated within the Ten Commandments; the world was created with ten Divine utterances; G‑d relates to His creation via ten sefirot (Divine attributes); and the soul of man, formed in the image of G‑d, is likewise comprised of ten powers. But instead of instructing to give ten gerah, the Torah says to give half of a twenty-gerah shekel, deliberately avoiding mention of the number ten and emphasizing the “half” element of our contribution to the Divine dwelling in our midst.

Separated at Birth

For such is the essence of marriage. If each partner approaches the marriage with a sense of his or her self as a complete entity, they will at best achieve only a “relationship” between two distinct, self-contained lives. But marriage is much more than that. The Kabbalists explain that husband and wife are the male and female aspects of a single soul, born into two different bodies; for many years they live separate lives, often at a great distance from each other and wholly unaware of the other’s existence. But Divine providence contrives to bring them together again under the wedding canopy and accord them the opportunity to become one again: not only one in essence, but also one on all levels—in their conscious thoughts and feelings and in their physical lives.

Marriage is thus more than the union of two individuals. It is the reunion of a halved soul, the fusion of two lives originally and intrinsically one.

To experience this reunion, each must approach his or her life together not as a “ten,” but as a half. This half-shekel consists of ten gerah—each must give their all to the marriage, devoting to it the full array of resources and potentials they possess. But each must regard him- or herself not as a complete being, but as a partner—a part seeking its other part to make it whole again.

The Sanctuary

The half-shekel ring given to Rebecca for her marriage to Isaac was the forerunner of the half-shekel contributed by each Jew towards the building of the Sanctuary, the marital home in the marriage between G‑d and man.

The soul of man is “a part of G‑d above”—a part that descended to a world whose mundanity and materiality conspire to distance it from its supernal source. So even a soul who is in full possession of her ten powers is still but a part. And even when G‑d fully manifests the ten attributes of His involvement with His creation, He is still only partly present in our world. It is only when these two parts unite in marriage that their original wholeness and integrity is restored.

So to build G‑d a home on earth, we must contribute half of a 20-gerah shekel. We must give ourselves fully to Him, devoting the full spectrum of our ten powers and potentials to our marriage with Him. But even as we achieve the utmost in self-realization in our relationship with G‑d, we must be permeated with a sense of our halfness—with the recognition and appreciation that we, as He, are incomplete without each other.