The Midrash Tanchuma for Parshat Ki Tisa (Siman Bet) comments on the phrase “Ze Yitnu” (Shemot 30:13), “Come and see the closeness and love [that Hashem has] for Bnai Yisrael.” He writes that the Shevatim brought a Chatzi Shekel to redeem themselves for committing the sin of the Chet Haegel. The giving of the Chatzi Shekel was to attain forgiveness from Hashem for doing the Chet Haegel. How, though, does the Mitzva of Machazit Hashekel show love that Hashem has for Bnai Yisrael? Isn’t the reason for bringing the Chatzi Shekel to atone for the sin of the Chet Haegel?
Rabbi Chaim Yaacov Goldvicht, the previous Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, explains why the Mitzva of Machazit Hashekel is such an important Mitzva. The Midrash (Shemot Rabba 43:5) presents a conversation between Moshe and Hashem which took place while Moshe was trying to defend Bnai Yisrael for doing the Chait Haegel. Moshe said, “You said ‘Anochi Hashem Elokecha…’ Didn’t you only say that commandment to me?” Moshe was defending Bnai Yisrael for committing the sin of the Chet Haegel by arguing that the first two Dibrot were said in singular form. He was implying that Bnai Yisrael were therefore not responsible for failing to observe it them. However, isn’t it obvious that the Dibra of Anochi Hashem Elokecha, was said to all of Bnai Yisrael?
When Bnai Yisrael got the Torah Chazal say that they united spiritually by calling out “Ish Echad Kilev Echad,” “As one man with one heart.” This spiritual level was reached because each person of Bnai Yisrael directed their personal goals to establish a nation that would bring out the good of Hashem. When Am Yisrael is united there is no place for sin. By the sin of the Chet Haegel, the Torah says “Eyleh Elokecha Yisrael Asher Heelucha Meeretz Mistrayim,” “Yisrael, this is your God, who took you out from Egypt.” Rabi Shimon bar Yochai says (Sanhedrin 63a) that “Asher Heelucha” teaches us that Bnai Yisrael turned to many gods and were not united due to different personal goals, which made it possible for Bnai Yisrael to sin. Moshe argued that at the time of Matan Torah, Bnai Yisrael was on a were completely united; therefore “Anochi Hashem Elokecha” was said in singular form. After the Chet Haegel, though, Bnai Yisrael was not completely united, and therefore the commandment of “Anochi Hashem Elokecha” did not apply.
By each person individually contributing a half Shekel for Avodat Hashem and the Korban Tamid, they are uniting with the rest of Bnai Yisrael to get closer to Hashem. Through this action Bnai Yisrael is no longer a divided nation but rather an “Ish Echad Bilev Echad,” “One man with one heart.”