This is a special Shabbat! Of course, every Shabbat is special, simply because it is sanctified as “special” time – holy time. But this Shabbat is extra special.
This is the first of four special Shabbatot that lead up to Passover. Shabbat Shekalim gets its special name from the Maftir Aliyah that is read on Shabbat. The Maftir Aliyah is from Ki Tissa – specifically Exodus 30:11-16. It is read in addition to our regular weekly Torah portion of Mishpatim. The Maftir Aliyah describes the annual obligation of each of our people to contribute a half shekel to support the operation of the Mishkan [sanctuary]. This contribution was also used as a census, to count our people.
It reminds me of a particular verse found in our weekly Torah portion of Mishpatim (Exodus 23:5) which teaches us: “If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden, you shall not ignore him. You shall surely help along with him.”
We are obligated to help, but so is the person who needs our help if that person is able to work with us to relieve the burden on the donkey’s back. We help along with the person who needs help – not alone!
Shabbat Shekalim reminds us of our obligation to contribute, to help…and through our participation… to be counted. Our participation counts on so many levels.
It is not only in the physical or material world that our participation counts. It is also in the spiritual, in the emotional, and in the intellectual spheres that our participation is essential to bringing more blessing into our lives and into the world around us! Our participation counts!
This Shabbat we will also be reciting the blessing for the new Jewish month of Adar, which reminds us that Purim is right around the corner….Our Sages tell us that as soon as we usher in the month of Adar, we increase the simcha [joy] in our lives. Rosh Chodesh Adar will be on Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week. May it be a month of much joy, of light, and of great blessing!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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