TalmuDigest

For the week ending 19 October 2013 / 15 Heshvan 5774

Shekalim 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • When the machatzit hashekel collection began and why
  • Jewish giving for right cause and wrong one
  • The three different terumot of money
  • When there is a second month of Adar
  • The marking of graves or sites of human remains
  • Enforcing the law against kilayim (mixed plants) offenders
  • Who is obligated to give machatzit hashekel and from whom is it and other gifts to the Beit Hamikdash accepted
  • Who must add a kalbon (small coin) to machatzit hashekel and why
  • If heirs are considered a single unit in regard to obligation of kalbon and the tithing of animals
  • Transporting machatzit hashekel money to the Beit Hamikdash and what happens if it is lost or stolen
  • If one uses for his own obligation coin given to him to relay for machatzit hashekel
  • When one gives more than a machatzit hashekel
  • History of machatzit hashekel sums and reasons for them
  • Money left over from sum dedicated to machatzit hashekel or sacrifices
  • Money left over from collections for captive redemption, for relief of poor or for their burial
  • The significance of quoting words of Torah in name of source
  • When the tithing of machatzit hashekel and of animals was done
  • Removing crates on Shabbat and drinking wine at Pesach Seder

Above Suspicion

When Moshe granted the tribes of Reuven and Gad their request to receive their portion of Eretz Yisrael on the east side of the Jordan, he made it conditional on their first taking part in the wars waged by the other tribes for the conquest of the rest of the Land. By fulfilling this condition they would not only be doing what was right in the eyes of G-d who wanted them to participate in this conquest, but would also erase any suspicion that the other tribes might have that they wished to settle in the already-conquered territory in order to avoid taking part in the war of the entire nation. The need to achieve both of these objectives was summed up in the words “Then you will be free of guilt before G-d and Israel.” (Bamidbar 32:22)

In the same spirit our mishna informs us of the caution exercised by the kohanim who went into the office where the machatzit hashekel coins were stored three times a year to tithe the money needed for the purchase of communal sacrifices. They were careful not to wear anything that could possibly be used for concealing stolen coins, even tefillin or shoes! Should anyone of them fail to thus avoid suspicion the result would be that if he subsequently came upon hard times people would say it was a punishment for his dishonesty, and if he became prosperous they would say it was the result of his pilfering.

This teaches us, concludes the mishnah, that a man must strive to be considered righteous in the eyes of man just as in the eyes of G-d.

What the Sages Say

“The righteous require no monuments; their words are their memorials.”

  • Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel
    Shekalim 7a

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