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MACHATZIS HASHEKEL: PART OF A WHOLE

The posuk in Shemos, Perek

Lamed, posuk yud gimmel

says that every Jew who was

to be counted needed to give

half a shekel. The Alshich

says in the name of Rabbi

Shlomo Alkabetz that there are two reasons the

Jews were commanded to donate the machtzis

hashekel. The first reason is to show that every

individual is really only a half (not complete)

when he is on his own. The second reason is

to show that when a Jew joins the klal he then

becomes a whole person.

The Malbim says that as long as the Jews

join together as one person, the zechus of the

rabim is great. On the other hand, if you count

the Jews separately, each individual gets judged

by himself and then the vulnerability to plagues

and other punishment is that much greater. To

counteract this problem Hashem commanded

Bnei Yisroel to bring a half a shekel, which

shows that they are only part of a larger unit.

Only when he joins with others will he be considered

a whole.

This can also explain the famous Gemara

in Megilah, daf yud gimmel, amud bais where

Reish Lakish said that Hashem projected ahead

to Haman in the future who would pay shekalim

to plot against the Jews; therefore, Hashem

preceded Haman’s shekalim with the command

that the Jews should donate shekalim.

This half shekel donation served as an antidote

to Haman’s shekalim.

We can try to explain why the machtzis

hashekel was sufficient to counteract the

shekalim of Haman. The main power of how

Amalek tried fighting against the Jews was by

causing the Jews not to get along (pirud levavos.)

The Yaaros Dvash in chelek alef, drush

gimel says if the Jews are be’aguda achas (of

one mind and agreement) then no other nation

can rule over them. If you look in the megillah

when Haman tries to plead his case for the annihilation

of Bnei Yisroel he says, “There is a

nation who is mefuzar and meforad (separated

and spread out) between all other nations, indicating

that the Jews are not united. Esther, to

counteract Haman’s complaint, said the opposite

when she asked that “knos es kol haYehudim”

(gather together) all the Jews. If the Jews

are together, then the Reshaim are unable to

cause any evil to befall them.

The Midrash Rabba, Vayikra, Perek Chof

Vov, posuk bais tells us that during the era of

Dovid Hamelech, the Jews would lose battles

when going out to war as a result of the people

who spoke lashon hora, effectively causing

separation between oneJew and another. When

Haman gave the ten thousand shekalim, he

had the intention of showing that just like each

shekel is an important coin and can’t become

bateil, (nullified) the same concept applies to

the Jews when they are not mevateil themselves

to one another and people are only in it

for themselves. Hashem counteracted this divisive

idea with the machatzis hashekel to prove

that we can only have a complete matbea when

we join with one another. Only when we are

part of a whole can we become invincible.

This can also explain why Moshe and

Yehoshua carried out the initial war against

Amalek. The reason for this was that we find

that Moshe was the greatest anav (humble person)

to have ever lived. We also find that the

Targum Yonasan explains why Moshe added

a letter to Yehoshua’s name because “chama

Moshe anvasenusei”(Moshe saw his humility.)

Humility shows that one is a part of a whole.

The humble man is totally united with all the

Jews, hereby not feeling the need to be “nisgaeh”

(think you are greater than others.) That

was the power needed to beat Amalek.

May we be zocheh to be united and be zocheh

to erase Amalek and live to see the Bais

Hamikdosh Hashlishi so we can contribute the

machtzis hashekel. Amen!

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