Chafetz Chaim: Shekalim by Aryeh Krischer


As Sefer Shemot draws to a close, Moshe at last erects the Mishkan, the central place of Jewish worship until Shlomo build the Beit HaMikdash. As preparations for the Mishkan are winding down, we read of a head tax. The payment was simple: “Machatzit HaShekel BeShekel HaKodesh LeChol HaOver Al HaPekudim MiBen Esrim Shanah VaMa’alah,” “One half-Shekel [measured] by the ‘sacred Shekel’ [measure] for all who are of countable age; from age twenty and up” (Shemot 38:26). The builders of the Mishkan then fashioned this silver into all of the fittings that held the Mishkan together. As the Chafetz Chaim explains, not every Jew’s gifts were used in the Mishkan, as not all were worthy of this honor. However, since the half-Shekels of the entirety of the Jewish People were used to hold the Mishkan together, every Jew had a part in the construction of the Mishkan. Likewise, every Jew, no matter how worthy or unworthy, has a portion in the Torah of Hashem and in the Jewish congregation.

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