Shekalim: The Kotzker
Rabbi Meir said: “God took a coin of fire from under the Throne of Glory, showed it to Moses, and said to him: This they shall give” (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tisa #9). The Kotzker
commented: “Moses our teacher was puzzled: how can a plain coin have the power to ransom a soul? God then showed him a coin of fire and said to him: ‘This they shall give.’ If the giving will not be just an ordinary coin, but a coin accompanied by fire, given with deep fervor coming from a state of spiritual exaltation with a piece of one’s soul- this will be a ransom for his soul. A coin of fire -like this they shall give!”
The Shem MiShmuel, the Kotzker’s grandson, brings down the following: Reish Lakish said: “It was known and revealed to He Who spoke and made the world that in the future Haman would count out Shekalim to buy the right to exterminate Israel. Therefore, He arranged His Shekalim (the obligatory half-Shekel) to precede Haman’s Shekalim.” (Megillah 13b)
Haman, or Amalek, is famous for having “cooled down” the Nation of Israel. The fiery coin, as the embodiment of our burning enthusiasm in our Godly Service, is what counteracts the negative effect of Amalek.
Tools: When we give the Half Shekel, we should be aware that for it to represent a ransom for our soul, we should do it with “a piece of our soul”. This is also the time to reflect on the different sources of cynicism in our lives that prevent our Mitsvot from reflecting the fire of our passion for God.