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: THE RED HEIFER, PURITY & PASSOVER
WHO WERE BETZALEL & OHALIAV, THE CHIEF CRAFTSMEN OF THE DESERT TABERNACLE?
TABLETS ENGRAVED BY THE FINGER OF G-D & A MAN MADE DISASTER CALLED THE GOLDEN CALF
This week's Torah reading of Ki Tisa, (Exodus 30:11 - 34:35), is action-packed, balancing our time between the final preparations for building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and chronicling the debacle of the gold calf. To add to the excitement, we also read about the ordinance of the red heifer this Shabbat, in anticipation of the fast approaching Passover offering. Announcing a new series of teachings about the Temple ketoret Incense, also described in Ki Tisa, with all-new illustrations and teachings!
THE STORY OF PURIM
A fascinating subtext in the book of Esther that we read on Purim reveals the historical struggle to rebuild the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem upon the ruins of the first Holy Temple built by King Solomon and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the father-in-law of King Ahasuerus, who plays a leading role in the book of Esther and a leading role in trying to stop the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. And that's just for starters. Abba Horvitz shares the Temple related intrigue in Esther and also the role of the Jews in the many twists and turns along the way to the second Holy Temple.
WEEKLY TORAH STUDY: KI TISA
The sin of the golden calf had its devastating repercussions, and in its aftermath, Moshe, who was exerting every fiber of his spiritual being to repair the fissure between G-d and His people, requested of G-d a vision of His true, unimpeded reality. What he received was what G-d was willing to grant him, a vision that could be comprehended by mortal man. Nevertheless, Moshe's glimpse of G-d's ultimate goodness is the most profound and far reaching vision of G-d recorded in the Torah. We, no doubt, cannot match the depth of Moshe's vision, be we can, and should be ready, to encounter our own vision of G-d's true essence.
Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 - 34:35)
Parashat Ki Tisa is read on Shabbat:
Adar 22, 5781/March 6, 2021