Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Counted - A Lesson for Shabbat Shekalim

We start the month of Adar on Monday which means that Passover, which occurs in the next month, is only six weeks away. I haven't been in the grocery store to check, but I imagine it won't be long now until the Pesach food starts getting put out. We are reminded of the coming of Adar and of Purim and then Passover with the special reading for this Shabbat, Shabbat Shekalim. We read about the gift all Jews were to make of a half-shekel for the upkeep of the Temple. We usually collect such donations at Purim and this special reading is the first of four leading up to Passover. In the Torah, we are told that "those who pass over to be counted" give the half shekel. It's an odd phrase. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch picks up on it and says about the Pekudei Adonai - The Counted by God - "there is no higher nobility, no deeper feeling of happiness than to belong" to that group. What are the entrance requirements to that group? Simply that you contribute the half-shekel, not more and not less. In theory, all Jews were meant to be a part of that group (and in an interesting aside worthy of quite a debate, you are to donate a half-shekel for all the members of your household, even an unborn child in the womb). It is such a great message - that just by contributing a little to the well-being of the Jewish community, we get "elite status" membership - better than any king, prince or potentate could confer. I hope that this year, as part of your preparations for our upcoming holidays that you'll enroll in this honorable club and do your part to help our Jewish community. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Benson

No comments:

Post a Comment