Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat is the first of four special Shabbats
between now and Pesach in which we read from two Torah scrolls,
the portion of the week in the first scroll and a special
portion for the Maftir, relevant to the time of year, in the
second scroll. The four Shabbats parallel the four letters of
Hashem’s name and prepare us for the four terms of redemption
connected to the four cups at the Seder.
In the first scroll we read the portion Mishpatim. The
portion of Mishpatim includes the Jewish civil laws. It
concludes with details concerning the giving of the Torah that
weren’t mentioned last week, including that we promised Hashem
that whatever He commands, we will do and we will hear. The
seemingly awkward wording teaches us that we must first be ready
to accept and follow the commandments of Hashem unconditionally,
and thereafter we must seek to understand them. Thereby we
include our hearts and minds in the deeds we perform. The
juxtaposition of the civil laws and this lesson teaches us that
although the civil laws are comprehendible, they are Divine and
we must submit our logic to the logic of Hashem. Further,
although the laws are mundane, through understanding them we
connect our minds with Hashem. Through fulfilling them, we bring
Hashem into our mundane affairs of commerce and interpersonal
For the Maftir we read the portion of Shekalim. We then bless
the month of Adar, the month of Purim. The portion of Shekalim
describes the Mitzvah of the annual contribution to the Temple
in Yerushalayim for the public offerings. The communal offerings
were bought with public funds in order that everyone should have
an equal participation. The Torah commands that a collection be
made and that everyone give a half Shekel. It was forbidden to
give more or less. The collection was made during the month of
Adar in order that the offerings from the beginning of Nissan
(the month of Pesach, which is considered the first month) could
be purchased from the new funds.
There is also a special connection between the portion of
Shekalim and the festival of Purim. Haman promised King
Achashverosh ten thousand Shekalim as a bribe if he would agree
to annihilate the Jewish people. The Gemarrah teaches that the
Shekalim that were donated to the Temple nullified the effect of
his bribe. This is alluded to in the verse (Exodus 30:12) “and
they shall give… and there will be no destruction.”
The Midrash teaches that when Hashem told Moshe the Mitzvah of
Machatzit Hashekel (the half Shekel), he couldn’t understand it
until Hashem showed him a half Shekel of fire. Seemingly, this
Midrash is very puzzling. What was so difficult to understand?
The Shekel was a known coin at the time, and once a year
everyone was to give a half Shekel.
What perplexed Moshe was that we only give a half Shekel.
Every Mitzvah is done in a full and complete manner. Sacrifices
that were incomplete were invalid. When it came to the annual
participation in the communal sacrifices, surely we should give
a full Shekel!
In order to answer this, Hashem showed Moshe a half Shekel of
fire. The half Shekel of fire is the half Shekel of Hashem,
which completes our half Shekel. Hashem reminds us that whatever
we do is only through His grace. When we do a Mitzvah,
particularly Tzedakah, it is often accompanied with ego. I
am the giver, you are the recipient and I give up
my hard earned money. Hashem reminds us that it is His
blessing that allows us to succeed and have all that we possess.
Our half Shekel only exists thanks to His half Shekel of fire.
There is a deeper meaning to the half Shekel of fire. When we
perform the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, Hashem send us a half Shekel of
fire; renewed warmth in prayer, Torah study, and all the Mitzvot
we perform. Meaning and fervor in life are the greatest
Another meaning is Hashem told Moshe that when one gives
Tzedakah, it must be a coin of fire. Tzedakah must be given with
warmth and excitement. The Rambam teaches that the attitude in
giving Tzedakah is often more important than the quantity. This
is true for the giver and recipient.
The month of Adar is the month of joy, when the Mazal of the
Jewish people is strong. The word Adar is a composite of the
Hebrew letter Aleph, which represents Hashem, and the word Dar,
which means dwells. May we see that in this Adar, the month of
joy, Hashem’s dwelling in this earth will be established in the
Third Temple with the coming of Moshiach.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov! As we enter the month of Adar
may you see the strengthening of your Mazal and Hashem’s
blessings in every part of your life!!
Dedicated to Moshe Chaim Ben Yehudis for phenomenal success
Purim is the 7th and 8th of March! With
Purim coming up, please think of ways to see that as many Jews
as possible can participate in the Mitzvot of hearing the
Megillah, giving Mishloach Manot (gifts of food), gifts to the
poor, and the Purim feast. Haman referred to the Jewish people
as divided. By helping others perform the Mitzvot of Purim, we
negate his words and demonstrate our unity.
To learn more about Purim please go to my website,
A Project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807