Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Mishpotim & Shekolim

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In addition to our regular weekly Torah reading, Mishpotim, we read a different portion this week, Shekolim. It tells of the yearly half-shekel which had to be given by all Jews.

The Torah says that[1]this they shall give … a half shekel according to the holy Shekel.” The Parshah teaches us that this half-shekel provides a Jew with[2] “an atonement for his soul.” Rashi cites the words “this they shall give” and explains as follows. “He (Hashem) showed him (Moshe) a sort of coin of fire weighing half a shekel, and He said to him, ‘Like this one they shall give.’”

Rashi explains that Hashem showed something to Moshe because the Torah uses the word this; “this they shall give.” The term this always refers to that at which one can point.

However, why does he need to write that G-d showed Moshe a coin of fire? Why did He not show Moshe a simple silver coin? This does not seem to fit with Peshat, the simple meaning of the verse.

The explanation is that Moshe was shocked when Hashem told him that by giving a half shekel, one could attain “atonement for his soul.”

We can explain this with an analogy. A young man desired to become a goldsmith. He went to an experienced smith to learn this trade. The teacher was clear, and in a short time, his student learned the trade. There was just one thing that the teacher did not mention. He assumed that the student would understand that he must first light a fire under the silver or gold for his work to have any effect. When the student returned home to practice his trade, he did as he learned. The one thing which he did not do, was to light a fire under the raw material. We can understand that his work was in vain; it did not change the metal at all.

The above is why Hashem showed Moshe a coin of fire. One cannot attain “atonement for his soul” by paying money. It is only when he “lights a fire” under it that it has any effect. He must give it with the excitement which comes from the essence of his soul. Only then can it serve as atonement.

We must all learn from this that every Mitzvah we fulfill, and all of the Torah we study, must come from our hearts’ depths. Then, we will bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a good month!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 3, Page 529


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 30:13.

[2]. Our Parshah, Shemos 30:12.

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