Benefiting as a Whole by Binyamin Segal


In Parashat Ki Tisa, Hashem commands all men in Bnei Yisrael who are at least 20 years old to give the Machatzit HaShekel. We often pose the celebrated question - why half a Shekel and not a full Shekel? While there are many answers to this question, the one that is most well known is that a Jew is not complete without having care and concern for his brethren. We give only half a Shekel to show that we can be whole only when we are together with someone else. Everyone is equal; no one can give more and no one can give less.

I would like to suggest an extension of this approach. A Pasuk in Parashat Mishpatim states (Shemot 23:25), "VaAvadtem Et Hashem Elokeichem UVeirach Et Lachmecha VeEt Meimecha VeHasiroti Machalah MiKirbecha," "If you (plural) worship Hashem your God, He shall bless your (singular) bread and water and He will remove all illness from you." Why does this Pasuk start in the plural and end in the singular? The answer is that when one small group that is committed to Torah and Mitzvot serves Hashem, all of Bnei Yisrael benefit; Bnei Yisrael receive all of Hashem's blessings as one people. The plural reference in the Pasuk refers to the members of the small group, and the singular reference represents the entire Jewish people. A similar use of pronouns can be found in Hallel. When the Kohanim (House of Aharon) praise Hashem, the Pasuk says (Tehillim 118:3), "Yomeru Na Veit Aharon," referring to the group in plural. Also, the Pasuk for God-fearers (118:4), "Yomeru Na Yirei Hashem," is in plural. However, when referring to Bnei Yisrael in general, the Pasuk states (118:2), "Yomar Na Yisrael," in singular. This is further proof that those dedicated to the worship of Hashem are referred to in a plural sense, and those receiving the reward - Bnei Yisrael - are a singular entity.

This Pasuk in Mishpatim upholds the idea that we learned from Ki Tisa. A Jew is dependent on his fellow. When Jews who are careful to observe Mitzvot do so, then the entire nation reaps the benefits of Hashem's blessings.

To Reassemble by Rabbi Darren Blackstein

Good Intentions Gone Bad by Ariel Felsen