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Friday, March 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Pekudei / Shekalim

This coming Tuesday, 2 Adar, is the yahrtzeit of my Zadie. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak, a"h.

    This week's parsha begins by tallying the totals for the materials collected for the building of the Mishkan. We are told exactly how much gold, silver and copper was collected as well as the exact uses of the silver and copper. In the maftir reading for Parshas Shekalim which comes from Parshas Ki Sisa, we read about the collection of the half shekel for the purpose of counting B'nei Yisroel. It is evident from the beginning of the parsha that this is the only silver that was collected.
    A prevalent theme in the half-shekel is the that of equality. It is often stressed that everyone came forth to give the same amount and no one could give more or less. However, when one observes deeper, the silver half-shekel actually teaches an exact opposite lesson as well. While it is true that no one was permitted to give more or less, it was only the men between 20 and 60 who were to give anything at all. There was plenty of hard work to be done sheering all the wool, spinning and weaving. Anyone who had gold or shittim wood was more than welcome to bring it in and donate. But the silver contributions were exclusive. It would seem that a woman or a 19-year-old or 61-year-old man who wished to donate silver would have been turned away.
    The Mishkan was a unifying edifice, with its place exactly in the middle of the camp. With all the work and donation that was necessary for the Mishkon, surely everyone felt they could play some role in its development and it was the gathering place for all of the nation to come together. But Jewish unity and equality has a special and unique, yet equally essential quality. Within the oneness and togetherness of our great nation, each person and group has their place and must be aware of it. This very point is made clear in the everyday service in the Mishkan. The Kohanim had their designated tasks. The Leviim had their job and the Yisroeilim had their duties as well. You could not become a Kohein if you were not born one, no matter how much you yearned to do their service. The exclusivity of the silver donations gives focus to this point in regards the building of the Mishkon as well. We must all work together as a nation in unison. But towards that end, we must recognize our place and be aware of the unique role that each of us plays.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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