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Shekalim: Toledot Yaakov Yosef

The Half-Shekel was the atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. However, all those who sinned were killed, which means that the Shekalim applied to those who survived.


The Half-Shekel is a symbol of the sense of responsibility that one must have for one’s fellow Jew. The Jewish People is composed of the righteous ones as well as the masses. Both are necessary. Abraham set the example as one who cared about those who were lost and spent his life trying to bring them back to the better path.

Noach, on the other hand, was secluded in the Arch as a consequence for having failed to return the people of his generation to righteousness. Since he refused to be the shepherd for human souls, he ended up being the shepherd of animals.

This seems to indicate the reason we read Shekalim at the onset of the month of Adar. The verse in Esther says: “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed” Therefore, Esther ordered: “Go and gather all the Jews!” This was to rectify the existing disharmony and bring unity. The commandment of the half-Shekel prepares us and awakens us before Purim, so that we too, like Esther, should mend the divisions among our people and guide those who are astray. (Based on Toldot Yaakov Yosef, Ki-Tisa)

ToolsTools: We should open our eyes and feel a sense of responsibility towards others. This is a time when we must develop our sensitivity and remind ourselves that the Half-Shekel is also a symbol of our accountability when it comes to the rest of the Jewish People.

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