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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Positive Mitzvah 171

  Day 58Day 60  

Positive Mitzvah 171: Yearly Giving of the Half Shekel
Exodus 30:12 "Then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul to the L-rd"

The fourth grade class of Yeshiva Academy was studying about the Mishkan - the Tabernacle in the desert - during their Chumash class.

They found out about a magnificent model for sale equipped with all the vessels and movable parts. It even had dolls dressed up as priests in their special and beautiful clothes.

They wanted to purchase this model to help them learn more about the Mishkan. However, when the class priced the model, they were very disappointed. The model was unique and, therefore, quite expensive.

As they were debating how to raise the money, Benny came up with a suggestion.

"I have an idea," he said.

"This model will remain in the school for many years. Every class in the school will also be able to use this model and benefit from it. Why don't we make it a school project? If all the students chip in, we'll have enough money to cover the cost!"

Everybody thought that this was a great plan. They spoke to their teacher and principal who readily agreed. The principal informed the fourth grade that the company who made the model would give the school hundreds of cardboard kits enabling every student to build their own mini-Mishkan!

Since everybody was going to enjoy the grand model and also receive a kit, it seemed fair that each student should pitch in and contribute towards the purchase.

At the time of the Beit HaMikdash, sacrifices were brought to atone for the entire nation.

These sacrifices were considered "general," and the animals used were purchased from a specific account funded by the people.

These funds were collected in the form of a half-Shekel per-person each year.

HaShem commanded every Jew to make this yearly payment.

By contributing to this fund, every Jew benefits from the sacrifice presented as a "general" atonement.

On the first night of Chanuka all eight candle holders stand before you. But you light only one. Tomorrow night you shall light two. You know that eventually you will light all eight.

From which we learn two things:

  1. Always grow. Always keep moving. If you did one good thing yesterday, do two today.

  2. Move step by step in life. Take things on at a pace you can handle. Don't expect to become a tzaddik overnight. But never fool yourself that today's step means you have arrived.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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