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What is Parshat Shekalim?

by Mrs. Shaina B. Lipskier

  

Library » Holidays » Purim » The 4 Parshiot | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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This special section of the Torah (Exodus 30:11-16) is read on the Shabbat before the month of Adar. Or, if Rosh Chodesh Adar is on Shabbat, Parshat Shekalim is read on that day. Parshat Shekalim discusses the Biblical obligation of Machatzit Hashekel, or Half shekel, which was a required annual tax to be given by every adult man during the times of the Holy Temple.


This tax was primarily used to purchase the animals which were used for the communal sacrifices. The leftover funds were used for a variety of communal purposes, including providing salaries for the judges and maintenance of the Temple, its vessels, and the city walls.

The Half Shekel was due annually on the 1st of Nissan, and the courts would post reminders regarding this tax a month earlier, on the 1st of Adar. We commemorate this on the Shabbat beforehand by reading the portion in the Torah which discusses this commandment.


 


See also: What is Machatzit HaShekel?


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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Adar
The twelfth month on the Jewish calendar. This month (which falls out approx. February-March), is the most joyous month on the calendar due to the holiday of Purim which is on the 14th and 15th of this month.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Rosh Chodesh
The "Head of the Month," Rosh Chodesh is observed the first day of every Jewish month. If the previous month had 30 days, then the last day of the previous month is also observed; hence a two-day Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh is a semi-holiday, marked by Torah-reading and special prayers.
shekel
(pl. Shekalim) Currency used in ancient Israel. [Modern Israeli currency also carries the same name.]
Shekalim
Plural form of Shekel. Currency used in ancient Israel. [Modern Israeli currency also carries the same name.]
Machatzit Hashekel
Half a Shekel (ancient Jewish currency). When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, every Jewish man was required annually to donate half a silver Shekel to the Temple coffers.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.