Rosh Chodesh Adar - "Shekalim" - 5761
to the Four Parshiyot
Around the time of Rosh Chodesh Adar, begins the two-month period which contains the two great holidays Purim in Adar, and Pesach in Nisan. This landscape of time is dotted with four special "Parshiyot" each read as Maftir, associated with four related Haftarot. The Maftir and Haftarah in each case are related to the two holidays.
The four are:
"Shekalim" - taken from the beginning of Parshat Ki Tisa, and
dealing with the subject of the collection of half-shekalim
"Zachor" - taken from the end of Parshat Ki Tetze, and dealing
with the obligation to destroy the nation of Amalek, the nation that gave
rise to Haman, and that below and beyond all other nations,
represents "absolute evil"
"Parah" - taken from the beginning of Parshat Chukat, and dealing
with the Laws of the Red Heifer (young cow), the ashes of which are used in
the purification rituals of the Jewish People
"HaChodesh" - taken from Parshat Bo, and dealing with the
inauguration of the Hebrew Lunar Calendar, with the Month of Nisan - the
Month of the Exodus, the Physical birth of the Jewish People, designated as
the First Month
Here we will
discuss the first of these; the other three will be discussed, Please G-d,
at the appropriate times.
Shabbat always occurs near the beginning of that Adar in which Purim occurs
(first-and-only Adar in most years and Second Adar in "leap"
years). This year it is on the
second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar.
Two of the
associations made with the beginning of Adar are "On the first of Adar,
public announcements are made regarding the collection of Half-Shekalim"
and "From the beginning of
Adar, the amount of happiness is increased," mainly referring to Purim
and its happy theme, and the happy way in which it is celebrated.
Perhaps these two, the giving of silver and happiness, are
related, because it is a fundamental belief in Judaism that to
donate, to give generously of one's resources to worthy causes is a great
source of joy for the giver.
Ki Tisa, three donations of silver are referred to, based on the three-fold
occurrence of the expression "a donation to Hashem" early in the
Parshah. Two of these are
related to a census, a count of the population.
The connection with a census is that it is forbidden to count human
beings directly; therefore, the count of an object is substituted; in this
case the half-shekel, which was in one-to-one correspondence with the number
of people counted.
collected at the first half-shekel collection was used for the purpose of
making the silver sockets, which were part of the physical structure of the Mishkan.
collected at the second half-shekel collection (described at the beginning
of Sefer Bamidbar) was used for the purchase of communal sacrifices,
and it was regarding that one that the expression "to obtain atonement
for your souls" is used, since atonement is the basic purpose of
collection was the general donation of materials to the Mishkan,
where the amount was not fixed, and depended rather on the physical and
spiritual resources of the individual; that is, how generous he or she was,
as it says, "each person according to the donation of his heart."
When Rosh Chodesh Adar is Also Present
Chodesh Adar coincides with Parshat Shekalim, as it does in this year,
5761, that should be full of blessings for the Jewish People and for
the rest of the world, some congregations have the custom of adding two
verses to the Haftarah at its close, the first and last verses of the
Haftarah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh.
express central ideas of the Jewish Religion.
The first is from Yeshayahu 66:1, "So
said HaShem, The heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool; what
House could you build for Me, and what could be My resting place?"
This is the idea that HaShem is the stupendous, infinite G-d Who
created the Universe. But we must look at the next verse (Yeshayahu 66:2) as well,
”My hand made all these and thus they came into being, says HaShem - but
it is to this that I look, to the poor, humble-spirited human being, who
trembles at My word."
verse of the Haftarah of Shabbat Rosh Chodesh states the condition that
HaShem will take notice of the human being.
It is that (Yeshayahu 66:23),
"And it shall be that, from New Moon to New Moon, and from Shabbat to
Shabbat, all flesh shall come to bow before Me, says HaShem."
The condition is that the human being recognize his place in G-d's
world as the servant, who worships the Master faithfully on every Shabbat
and on every Rosh Chodesh (and every day in between).
for Shabbat Shekalim
selection read for the Haftarah on Shabbat Parshat Shekalim is taken from
the Book of "Melachim"/Kings II.
The Sefardic custom is to read from Chapter 11, verse 17 through
Chapter 12, verse 17. The
Ashkenazic custom is to read a smaller subset of these verses; that is,
beginning at the first "passuk"/verse of Chapter 12 and continuing
through "passuk" 17.
Summary of the Haftarah
from "Perek"/Chapter 11 discusses the actions of the righteous
High Priest, Yehoyada.
for this piece is the fact that when David was in flight from
and in desperate hunger, he stopped at Nov, a city of Priests, and requested
provisions. He was supplied
with bread and water. When
Shaul, a gigantic tragic figure in the TANACH, learned of this, in an
irrational, murderous rage he ordered the execution of all the inhabitants
of the city, as punishment for their "collaboration with" and
support of David.
David's role in the destruction of the city was indirect, Hashem held him
responsible and offered him the following choice:
either be delivered into the hands of his enemies, or allow the
destruction of his own descendants in the future. He naturally chose his own delivery into the hands of his
delivered into the hands of Yishbi, the brother of Galyat, the
Philistine giant whom David had
killed with his slingshot. David
was persuaded by Avishai, his loyal general,
to change his decision, on the grounds that the Jewish People needed their
King now, while Hashem
might very well have mercy and spare his descendants in the
future. David and
Avishai, therefore, were together able to kill Yishbi.
descendants of David, except one
had to pay the price. This came
about at the hands of a ruthless Jewish "Lady Macbeth," Atalyah,
the daughter of Achav and Izevel, wicked King and Queen of the split-off
Kingdom of Israel. She had
married Yehoram, King of Yehudah. When
her husband died and her son, Achaziah, was killed, she saw an opportunity
to become Queen of the Kingdom of Yehudah.
In her zeal to become Queen, she shed her natural feminine
compassion, and had all the members of her own family, who were also the descendants
of David, murdered. This is
hinted at by the changing of her name in the text from Atalyah to a man's
Yehoyada, the High Priest. He
and his wife Yehosheva, a daughter of Atalyah, hide the one surviving
descendant of David, and the rightful heir to the throne, the infant Yehoash. The hiding place is in the Temple itself, on top of the Holy
described as having initiated a unique form of "brit," or
covenant, involving three parties:
Hashem, the King and the People of Israel.
The King and the People declare their allegiance to Hashem.
And the People also declare their allegiance to the new King, Yehoash.
discovers what has happened, and cries out, "Conspiracy!
Conspiracy!" But it is too
late. Yehoyada has engineered a coup which topples Atalyah from the
throne of the Kingdom of Yehudah, into the hands of the conspirators, who
apply to her the same "generous" treatment she gave her own
family, the descendants of David. She
is replaced by the lone survivor of the bloodbath, Yehoash.
In the second part of the Haftarah according to the Sefardim, where the Ashkenazim begin, Yehoash ascends the throne at the tender age of seven. He is described as being righteous, and as doing what is good in G-d's eyes all the days that Yehoyada is alive to be his spiritual guide and mentor. The only flaw in his righteousness is that the People will not give up their practice of sacrificing at their private "Bamot," perhaps best described as "private altars."
Apparently, the society at that time differed radically from our own in two ways. One was the extreme power of the temptation to engage in idol worship. The Talmud says that that temptation had to be uprooted from the human soul by Hashem, because it was so strong! (Not to worry! We've developed our own replacement forms of idol-worship: sports (except for the Yankees), cars, TV, INTERNET, etc.)
was this tremendous, almost impossible to uproot, desire on the part of
individuals, to maintain their private "bamot," even when they
were forbidden because the central place of sacrificial worship was now
exclusively the Temple in Jerusalem! And
this can be explained in a way that speaks well, in a sense, of those
say that the dinner table is comparable to an altar, most of us don't really
mean it. They
meant it. They wanted to eat
only meat that had been sacrificed to Hashem.
And it was impossible for almost everyone to go to the Temple every
day. Their solution was the
"bamah," the backyard altar.
Chizkiyahu Hamelech, the righteous King Hezekiah, who according to Jewish
tradition, could have been the
Mashiach but, for some reason was not allowed to be, was able to suppress
the practice of the "bamot."
Collection of Silver at Time of Yehoash
goes on to describe the collection of silver for use in the Temple in the
time of King Yehoash. The sons
of Atalyah had done a tremendous amount of damage in the Temple; therefore,
it was decided that the silver that was collected would be used primarily
for its repair. Two methods
were tried; the first unsuccessful; the second very successful!
method involved use of the Kohanim as collection agents; that is, they would
collect the silver from individuals they knew.
Whatever they didn't collect, they were to make up themselves.
Obviously, the People would be less eager to contribute if they knew that
any deficit would be made up by others.
And the Kohanim were also not eager to implement this unfair method.
When it was discovered that twenty three years of this method had
produced very little in the way of Temple repair, this method was dropped.
replaced by the placement of a collection box at the side of the altar in
the courtyard of the Temple. This
was used for the collection of the per capita half-shekel donations and for
the donations of the "values" of individuals (as measured, of
necessity, since the true value of every individual is infinite, by pre-defined
values), as well as the unrestricted donations, which depended on the
generosity of individuals.
mentioned, this method was very successful.
As soon as the box would be filled, it would be opened and counted by
the King's Secretary as well as the High Priest, and put back at the side of
the altar. The monies would be
given to Administrators, who would deal with the workers - the carpenters,
the plasterers, stone-cutters, etc. involved in doing the work.
King's Secretary and the High Priest, nor the Administrators were suspect of
corruption, for they were individuals with reputations for great honesty and
Connection with the Parshah
link between the Parshah and the Haftarah is that Parshat Mishpatim is the
beginning of the initiation of the Jewish People into "Dinei Mamonot,"
requirement of these laws is for the People to practice honesty and
integrity, as did the King's Secretary, the High Priest and the
Administrators, in the time of Yehoash.
The Remedy Before the Injury
There is a
profound understanding in Jewish Tradition of the way that Hashem conducts
history, in that before He allows a punishment to befall the People of
Israel, he prepares the remedy.
He "knew" that a Haman would come along and give to Achashverosh 10,000 shekels of silver to kill the Jews. Hashem prepared, in order to counteract Haman's shekalim, the donations by the Jewish People of their shekalim, for the purpose of atonement.
The Coin of Fire
It was impossible for Moshe to understand how a small coin, a mere half-shekel, was sufficient to ransom the souls of individuals involved in the grave disloyalty shown by the Jewish People to Hashem when they worshipped the Golden Calf. Hashem had to take out a coin of fire and show it to Moshe, and He said, " 'Let them give this (small coin),' says the verse, and I will accept it as if it were a coin of fire." (Yerushalmi Shekalim Chapter 1, Mishnah 6)
There is one
way, probably the best way, for us to advance our cause, and by
"our," I mean the "Orthodox" Jewish cause, in the
struggle to improve our image (not to mention
the image of HaShem and His Torah), in the eyes of the non-"frum"
(non-Orthodox) world and the non-Jewish world.
That is for us to follow the main lesson of Parshat
Mishpatim and of the
Haftarah's faithful silver collectors
in the Temple, which also happens to be the number-one priority that the Heavenly Court will be
interested in, according to Masechet Shabbat 31a, when we arrive to
testify about our lives on
earth; namely, "Did you deal honestly with your fellow human
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU