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Amidah-Shekalim-Wholeness Print E-mail
Written by Machberes Avodas Hashem   

iAttach-Prayer-Amidah-Parsha-iPray-Kavanot-Parsha-ShekalimAnd now I would like to add my explanation of the reason why the Children of Israel were commanded to donate, as part of the Census, half a shekel (Exodus 30:13).


The purpose of man's creation as a composite of matter and form, which are two opposites, is that he make the matter submit to the form. And as it is with an individual person, so is it with regard to the whole world, or a country or a city. The righteous are the form, and the masses of the people are the matter, the bodily. The purpose of this division is that the righteous should bring the masses to repentance, as Abraham did, as it is said, “And the souls they had made in Haran (Genesis 12:5).” Thus is matter made subservient to form.

Now in one individual person, the soul or form must not boast of its superiority to the body by saying that it is a holy soul hewn from a Celestial Quarry, from under the Throne of Glory, whereas the body derives from dust and that fetid drop, as the Mishnah teaches in Avot: “Consider three things and you will be spared from sin; know whether you came… From a fetid drop.”

Despite this spiritual superiority of the soul, it descends into this world in order to perfect, through the organs of the body, all the Commandments necessary for the restoration of its wholeness; whereas before this, it had to eat the “bread of embarrassment.”

Certainly the body must not boast of its superiority to the soul, that is, because it supports the soul, for when the soul departs from the body the latter becomes malodorous as it is as it decomposes. Thus they need each other, like a man and woman, each of which alone is only half a body.

So, collectively, the scholars and the righteous must not say that they do not need the masses of the people, for the latter are the supporters of the Torah, and also because of many of the practical commandments which are fulfilled by them. Certainly, the masses of the people should not say that they do not need the scholars, or act arrogantly towards them because they support them, for that is not so.

On the contrary, it is as the Rabbis say, that God says, “The entire world is supplied with food because of the merit of my son Chanina, and my son Chanina himself suffices with a kav of carobs from Friday to Friday (Berachot 47b).”

If so, everyone must feel that he is only one half as is the half shekel. If the matter and form come together, whether in the collectivity or in the individual, man becomes one and complete. (Toledot Yaakov Yosef, Ki Tisa, Section 3)

"Establish peace, goodness, blessing, life, graciousness, kindness, and compassion upon us and upon all of Your people Israel.

Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Your countenance, for with the light of Your countenance You gave us, God, our Lord, the Torah of life and a love of kindness, righteousness, blessing, compassion, life, and peace.

And may it be  good in Your eyes to bless us and to bless all of Your people Israel, in every season and in every hour with Your peace.”

Peace, or “shalom,” also refers to "Shleimut,” wholeness as described in the selection above. It is the wholeness of the connection between form and matter, between the righteous and the masses, between man and woman. We are asking God to bless us with the ability to live our lives with that sense of wholeness in which we can connect the form and the matter, the righteous with the masses, and in our relationships as man and woman. It is appropriate to remember and apply the lesson of the Half Shekel when reciting this blessing.

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