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Shalom and Bracha!

May Hashem watch over and protect the land of Israel.

This Shabbat morning we bless the second month of Adar, the month of Purim, and we read from two Torah scrolls. In the first scroll we read the weekly portion, Pekudei, which is the conclusion of the book of Shemot (Exodus). When we conclude a book of the Torah, it is called Shabbat Chazak, which means strength This imbues every aspect of Shabbat with might. For the Maftir, we use a second Torah scroll and read a special portion, the portion of Shekalim.

 The portion of Shekalim describes the Mitzvah of the annual contribution to the Temple in Yerushalayim for the public offerings. In order for everyone to have an equal share in the public offerings, they were purchased with communal funds. The Torah commands that a collection be made and that everyone give a half Shekel. It was forbidden to give more or less. The collection was made during the month of Adar in order that the offerings from the beginning of Nissan (the month of Pesach) could be purchased from the new funds.

  There is also a special connection between the portion of Shekalim and the festival of Purim. Haman promised King Achashverosh ten thousand Shekalim as a bribe if he would agree to annihilate the Jewish people. The Gemarrah teaches that the Shekalim that were donated to the Temple canceled the effect of his bribe. This is alluded to in the verse (Exodus 30:12) “and they shall give… and there will be no destruction.”

   The Midrash teaches that when Hashem gave Moshe the Mitzvah of Machatzit Hashekel (the half Shekel,) he was puzzled until Hashem showed him a half Shekel of fire. Seemingly, this Midrash is very difficult to comprehend. What was so difficult to understand? The Shekel was a known coin at the time, and once a year everyone was to give a half Shekel.

   What perplexed Moshe was that we only give a half Shekel. Every Mitzvah is done in a full and complete manner. Sacrifices that were incomplete were invalid. When it came to the annual participation in the communal sacrifices, surely we should give a full Shekel!

  In order to answer this, Hashem showed Moshe a half Shekel of fire. The half Shekel of fire is the half Shekel of Hashem, which completes our half Shekel. Hashem reminds us that whatever we do is only through His grace. When we do a Mitzvah, particularly Tzedakah, it is often accompanied with ego. I am the giver, you are the recipient and I give up my hard earned money. Hashem reminds us that it is His blessing that allows us to succeed and have all that we possess. Our half Shekel only exists thanks to His half Shekel of fire.

   There is a deeper meaning to the half Shekel of fire. When we perform the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, Hashem send us a half Shekel of fire: renewed warmth in prayer, Torah study, and all of the Mitzvot that we perform. This relates to the portion of Pekudei which concludes the construction of the Tabernacle. The fire on the altar was a flame from Heaven that came as a response to the flame of man.   

   Pekudei also comes from the Hebrew word of remembrance. When Hashem redeemed us from Egypt, He said Pakod Pakadti Etchem (I have remembered you.) May Hashem grant that this Shabbat will be a true Shabbat Chazak when we conclude the exile and rejoice in the redemption.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Yitzchak Jemal on the occasion of his Brit. May he be imbued with the passion and joy of the Torah.

  Purim is the 19th of March! With Purim coming up, please think of ways to see that as many Jews as possible can participate in the Mitzvot of hearing the Megillah, giving Mishloach Manot (gifts of food), gifts to the poor, and the Purim feast. Haman referred to the Jewish people as a divided people who don’t follow the Kings commandments. By helping others perform the Mitzvot of Purim, we negate his words and demonstrate unity.

  The Talmud teaches that increasing Torah study brings Hashem's protection to the Jewish people and particularly to the people of Israel. If you know of anyone who might enjoy Torah e mail, please send me their addresses.

  This e mail is part of a worldwide program of Jewish awareness by Chabad of Great Neck. May this Torah study help bring Hashem's protection to the people of Israel and throughout the world. If you have received this in error or would like to unsubscribe, contact me at RabbiBiggs@gmail.com

There is a great Purim Website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/purim


 
   
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