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: ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY: LET THE BLESSED REDEMPTION BEGIN!
YOM HAZIKARON: REMEMBERING AND THANKING ALL WHO FELL IN ISRAEL'S WARS OF INDEPENDENCE AND RENEWAL
RITUAL PURITY & IMPURITY: A LIFE & DEATH SITUATION
Tonight we begin the sacred segue from Israel Memorial Day to Israel Independence Day - from solemn remembrance to joyful celebration, as the great redemption adventure continues to unfold. The Torah readings of Tazria-Metzora teach us that purity is a matter of attaching ourselves to life and to HaShem, the Source of life, and distancing ourselves from death, including the deadly malady of lashon hara - evil, negative, hurtful speech.
WEEKLY TORAH STUDY: SHEMINI
Immediately following the tragic deaths of Nadav and Avihu, Aharon's eldest sons, Moshe conveys to him this message from G-d: "I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified." Aharon's response, Torah tells us, is silence. Why is Aharon silent? And why does Torah share this information with us? Silence can speak volumes, and silence can express the inexpressible. Silence, at times, is the most profound of all responses.
Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47)
Parashat Shemini is read on Shabbat:
Nisan 28, 5781/April 10, 2021