Pekudei 5776 – Half Shekel

One bekka per head; half a shekel according to the holy shekel for each one who goes through the counting, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred three thousand, five hundred and fifty (Shemos 38:26)

Why was a half shekel given by each male? Why not a full shekel? The commentaries point out that a half shekel was used because then a person would have to join with another person to complete the shekel. It was a lesson to each person. You are not a complete person. Only when you realize that you are “one” with another are you complete.

Last week, I was on a business trip to Orlando. On the second day for lunch, our director (who is located in Orlando) invited my team out for lunch. Since the lunch was at a non-kosher restaurant I did not go. One of the non-Jewish women in my office asked me why I could not go. She knows that I could not eat the food there, but why can’t I just join them and sit there. I explained that I am wearing my yarmulka and if I walk into the restaurant, then others, seeing that I’m clearly Jewish, might mistakenly think this restaurant is kosher. She responded by saying, “well, that’s their problem, not yours.”

I did not respond back to her, but I wanted to. This might be the way some non-Jews think, but it is not a proper way for a Jew to think. We are always thinking of others because we are responsible for one another. No Jew is an island. We are all one. And that is why we give a “half shekel”.

Good Shabbos!
-y.e.s.
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