PARASHAT SHEKALIM: THE HALF SHEKEL OFFERING
Every year, on the first Shabbat of the month of Adar, (February 13), Jews in synagogues around the world read, in addition to the weekly Torah reading, the following six verses from Exodus 30:11-16. This is known as Parashat Shekalim:
"HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: 'When you take the sum of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to HaShem an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted. This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of such a shekel shall be an offering to HaShem. Everyone who goes through the counting, from the age of twenty and upward, shall give an offering to HaShem. The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel, with which to give the offering to HaShem, to atone for your souls. You shall take the silver of the atonements from the children of Israel and use it for the work of the Tent of Meeting; it shall be a remembrance for the children of Israel before HaShem, to atone for your souls.'"
It is read on the first Shabbat of Adar as a remembrance of the days of the Holy Temple, in which officials were sent from the offices of the Holy Temple to every city and village throughout the land of Israel. There they would set themselves up in the central plazas and collect the half shekel (machatzit hashekel) donation for the funding of the public offerings throughout the upcoming year. It was obligatory for every soul in Israel (over the age of twenty) to make the half shekel contribution. To this day it is customary for Jews to make charitable donations throughout the month of Adar in the name of the half shekel donation.
As stated in the Torah, "there will be no plague among them when they are counted!" The half shekel donation is a guard against pestilence and pandemic!
Why half a shekel and not a whole shekel? To teach us that none of us are complete without the other. Only together can we complete one another and make positive change in the world!
The current value of the biblical half shekel is $12.00. All half shekel donations made to the Temple Institute will go toward the physical, spiritual and educational preparations necessary for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple!
RED HEIFER UPDATE, MARCH 1, 2021
Raising a perfect red heifer, fit and kosher to be used for the Torah required ashes of the red heifer necessary for achieving the highest level of ritual purity is a challenge! Even a few non-red hairs disqualifies a red heifer candidate. But the Temple Institute is determined to produce the first red heifer ashes in over 2000 years. This update of the status of our current red heifer candidates was timed to coincide with Shabbat Parashat Para - the next to last Shabbat of the month of Adar on which we read Numbers, chapter 19, which details the laws of the red heifer.
Learn more about the red heifer!
TEMPLE TALK RADIO: OUR COVENANT WITH THE LAND OF ISRAEL
DESERVING G-D'S TRUST IN US
TRAGEDY AT MERON & THE ADMONITIONS OF BECHUKOTAI
Mourning and stocktaking have gripped Israel in the wake of the Meron tragedy in which 45 souls were trampled... the answer to all our questions is taking responsibility for all the G-d has entrusted us with: One another, the land, the planet, one another. This is the lesson taught in parashat Behar, concerning the Sabbatical years and the Yovel Jubilee year. And this is the lesson taught in parashat Bechukotai, "And if, despite this, you still do not listen to Me, still treating Me as happenstance, I will treat you with a fury of happenstance... " (Lev. 26:27-28)
WEEKLY TORAH STUDY: BEHAR-BECHUKOTAI/ בהר-בחקתי
"You may sow your field for six years, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce, But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest a Sabbath to HaShem." (Leviticus 25:3-4) G-d has entrusted His children with the great gift of planet earth. It is ours to care for, according to G-d's command. But beware, lest you think that the land belongs to you: "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land belongs to Me, for you are but strangers and temporary residents with Me." (Leviticus 25:23)
Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34)
Parashat Behar-Bechukotai is read on Shabbat:
Iyar 26, 5781/May 8, 2021