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Wednesday
Feb202013

PAY YOUR TAXES! 

The Halachic status of the Mitzva in the times of Moshiach of donating Machatzis HaShekel, the half-shekel coin that is to be collected for purchasing communal offerings.

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

This week we will be discussing the Halachic status of the Mitzva of donating Machatzis HaShekel, the half-shekel coin that is to be collected for purchasing communal offerings, in the times of Moshiach.

The Torah tells us (Shmos 30:11): “The L-rd spoke to Moses, saying: When you take the sum of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the L-rd an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted. This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of [such] a shekel shall be an offering to the L-rd. Everyone who goes through the counting, from the age of twenty and upward, shall give an offering to the L-rd. The rich shall give no more and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel, with which to give the offering to the L-rd.”

The reason that Hashem wants all Jewish people to give only a half-shekel is explained in many places in Chassidus: Every Jew has to know that he is only a “half.” If he wants to reach his own wholeness and completion, he must unite with Hashem by uniting with another Jew.

In the Seifer Taamei HaMinhagim the author explains a fascinating opinion: This biblical commandment that we should only give a half-shekel will change in the times of Moshiach. While historically we only gave a half-shekel, in the times of Moshiach we will give a full shekel!

The reason for the change can be explained from a few angles:

1) In the times of exile, we need to give the half-shekel as a reminder to unite with another Jew. In the times of Moshiach, when “In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition for good will flow in abundance and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d,” there will be no need for such a reminder.

2) One of the main reasons of the Mitzva of the half-shekel is “to atone for your souls.” By giving a half, it reminds the Jew that he must be humble and repent. Since in the times of Moshiach there will be no more sins and the evil inclination will be eradicated, we can give the full shekel.

3) When one gives a half-shekel, it is a reminder that he must continue to give more Tz’daka. In the times of Moshiach, when everything will be available in abundance, we do not need that special reminder.

(It must be noted that not all commentaries agree with the above opinions. See Yemos HaMoshiach B’halacha, Vol. 2 page 441, for an in-depth discussion on the above.)

I would like to finish with an interesting thought that I read on the Mitzva of Machatzis HaShekel. There is a saying told in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek that the word מחצית shows that a person has to be connected to a Tzaddik. There are five letters in the word מחצית. The צ is in the middle of the word and near it, on either side, are ח and י spelling חי (life) and on the outside of the word, are מ and ת, meaning the opposite of life. Hence, to be truly alive one must be connected to the Tzaddik.

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com.

 

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