The following is an abridged
version of some of the inspiring words of Rav S. R. Hirsch regarding the important
significance of the offering of the half shekel (from his “Collected Writings”
– Feldheim Pub. For the Rabbi Dr. Joseph
As the fifteenth of
Shevat has passed, and we have celebrated the festival of rejuvenation for the
trees, now Parashas Shekalim quickly steps into our midst and brings us the
first greeting of our own rejuvenation.
reminds us that we all belong to the great and holy community of G-d and that
each one has to contribute to this common task. Israel is to be the nucleus
around which a rejuvenated and liberated humanity will gather to serve G-d.
Therefore every Jewish heart should desire a Temple for all mankind. It is
through the full and upright collaboration in this holy work that our existence
possesses true meaning.
The shekel of the sanctuary calls
for united effort: It consists of two halves; it is formed by twenty gerahs,
twice ten, and each individual can contribute only half a shekel. What each of
us can contribute to the work is only a part and the contribution of our brother
must be joined with it together in order to make a whole. But in relationship to
us and our powers and talents it must contain “ten” a whole and complete sum,
the whole of what has been placed within our power. Every individual should
always strive to be imbued with the timeless shekel truth. This truth will
inspire, stimulate and transform Jewish life into an overwhelming demonstration
of dedication to the will of Hashem. Security and life, joyfulness, bliss,
divine protection, happiness and peace – “Shekel-duty” is the wondrous source
from which these blessings will flow.
Only through such a contribution do
we elevate and consecrate and sanctify our whole earthly pilgrimage, raising
what is transitory in us to the sphere of the eternal, what is human in us to
the Divine. Therefore, every year, before or along with the entry of Adar, this
lesson of the shekel comes afresh before our minds in order to renew in us the
Jewish communal feeling and the consciousness that we all belong to the great
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