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Half and Half


March 3, 2024

by Rabbi Daniel Huebner

In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, every Jew would contribute to the Temple, on an annual basis, half a shekel, the standard coin of Israel then and now. The money from this fund was used to purchase the offerings brought in the Temple on behalf of the community.

We read about this half-shekel donation in this week's Torah reading: “This they shall give… a half-shekel, twenty gerah is the shekel… The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less.”

It is interesting to note the focus on the donation being a half. When the Torah speaks about giving, whether giving to the poor or giving to the Temple, the gift is usually something complete.

Why then is this donation specifically a half? Why not refer to it instead as a donation of ten gerah? The number ten, after all, represents completion, as seen in G-d's Ten Utterances of creation, the Ten Commandments encapsulating the whole Torah, and the Ten Sefirot, divine attributes, which form the whole of us and the world.

The answer is that this half-shekel donation represents our partnership with G-d. G-d blesses us with material resources. Our job is to take those material blessings and utilize them to bring more goodness and godliness into the world. We have to recognize that we are just a partner in the grand scheme of things, just half of a whole. We have our part to do and G-d has His.


Rabbi Daniel and Raizel Huebner moved to San Miguel from New Jersey in 2018 with their family to start Chabad SMA. They enjoy living in San Miguel and integrating with the community through classes, Jewish activities and social events.


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