FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 1, 2014 29 ADAR I 5774
"This is what they should give, everyone who passes among the counting, half of the shekel by the holy shekel." (Shemot 30:13)
This Shabbat is Shabbat Shekalim, and we read the portion that contains the command for each Jew to give a half-shekel coin to build the Mishkan. We read this prior to Rosh Hodesh Adar II before the holiday of Purim. We also have the custom to give the half-shekel in shul before Purim. In the context of the Parashah, however, it was the means by which to count the Jewish people. Each person would give a coin and then the coins were counted, instead of counting the people directly.
Rabbi Nosson Wachtfogel zt"l explains that we have four special Shabbats prior to Passover, the first being Shabbat Shekalim. All four readings are preparations for the coming of the redemption by the Mashiah. We have a tradition that the redemption will come in the month of Nisan, the month when the Passover holiday arrives. He says we must prepare ourselves for the coming of the Mashiah. As we said, the shekalim was a means of counting the Jewish people. This counting is a way of gathering the people. The first stage of the redemption is to gather all the Jews from everywhere. This is to take place outside the land of Israel as proven in the Torah. The reason is that we cannot all come together to Israel before we all repent. The land of Israel can only receive the nation as a nation in good standing with Hashem. This gathering of all the Jews outside of Israel is also mentioned in the Ramban and the Shlah Hakadosh. This is followed by Shabbat Zachor. That Amalek must be eradicated is the actual process of teshubah. The following week is Shabbat Parah, which represents the purity we receive with teshubah. The fourth is Shabbat Hahodesh, which means we receive a new spirit. All of this is our process to greet the Mashiah.
There is one other thing, and we will be ready. Rabbi Elyashiv zt"l explains that in the Megillah, Haman tried to bribe Ahashverosh with silver to give him permission to wipe out the Jewish nation. So we give our silver half-shekel coins prior to Purim to uproot the power of Haman's silver. Haman said, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from every other people's. They do not observe even the king's laws." There is a hint here that they don't keep the King's (Hashem's) laws, they are scattered, they don't try to get together, they only care about their own spirituality. They are not concerned enough about their fellow Jew's spirituality. Therefore Hashem commands us to give a half-shekel, only half. This way we will realize we are only half, and then we will be ready. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"These are the reckonings of the Sanctuary" (Shemot 38:21)
Moshe made a reckoning of all the donations to the Mishkan to see that everything was accounted for. The Midrash says that he was surprised to see that there was some silver not accounted for, and sat there wondering where it went. He even heard some people murmuring under their breath about Moshe's wealth and whether it was connected to the lost silver. Ultimately, Hashem called out to Moshe reminding him where the lost silver was used, and everything was accounted for down to the last item.
We see from here an amazing lesson. People tend to suspect even the greatest among us, no less than Moshe Rabenu. There is a tendency in human nature to find fault in others. Although this is sometimes disappointing and maybe even disheartening, we should not lose hope in the goodness of human nature. In the long run, the innocent will be proven so, even if Hashem has to make a miracle to clear one's name. If a person knows that he's free of guilt, rather than despair, he should put his faith in Hashem to ultimately exonerate him. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Guilt! Psychiatrists have worked untold hours and earned millions of dollars relieving people of their guilt. All that time invested and money spent must prove that guilt is a bad thing, something the great minds of our generation should be trying to eradicate. The reality, however, is otherwise. Though guilt can indeed be bad - it can also be good.
Our Sages teach that Hashem created guilt as a spiritual counterpart to pain or hunger. Physical pain is a call to action. It is your body saying, "Something is wrong here that must be attended to - quickly!" Failure to respond can result in serious complications. Pain is actually a warning system - a valuable gift from Hashem.
Guilt is the pain of the spirit. It starts to act up when you have done something that is harmful to your soul. Instead of prompting bandages, antibiotics, and painkillers, it is meant to prompt feelings of regret and resolve never to repeat your spiritual failure.
In fact, in teshubah (repentance), the first step is acknowledging the sin, i.e., feeling guilty. Once an individual admits that he or she has done wrong, the subsequent steps of repentance - regret and resolving to do better in the future - can follow.
The human being is unique in that we can change and grow. Guilt is the alarm system that tells us we are going in the wrong direction and have to make a behavioral adjustment.
When guilt strikes, don't let it get you down. Appreciate the gift of Hashem that warns you when you are in danger. Confront the problem with a plan to fix it!
Guilt can save your life - literally! (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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