written by: Natalie Newman, 6th Grader who becomes a Bat Mitzvah on 3/18
I am very excited to have the opportunity to give a D'var Torah on my favorite parsha, Ki-Tisa.
The Parasha begins with the Mitzvah of Machatzit Hashekel:
זֶ֣ה | יִתְּנ֗וּ כָּל־הָֽעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מַֽחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל ..הֶֽעָשִׁ֣יר לֹֽא־יַרְבֶּ֗ה וְהַדַּל֙ לֹ֣א יַמְעִ֔יט מִמַּֽחֲצִ֖ית הַשָּׁ֑קֶל לָתֵת֙ אֶת־תְּרוּמַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶֽם וְלָֽקַחְתָּ֞ אֶת־כֶּ֣סֶף הַכִּפֻּרִ֗ים מֵאֵת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְנָֽתַתָּ֣ אֹת֔וֹ עַל־עֲבֹדַ֖ת אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֩ לִבְנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֤ל לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶֽם:
"a half shekel shall be the offering of G-d...The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less. The half-shekel should be designated for the service of the Mishkan - Tent of Meeting; that it may be a memorial to the children of Israel before G-d, to make atonement for your souls." “זה יתנו” (This they shall give) - Rashi explains that G-d took a coin of fire from under His throne of glory and showed it to Moshe, saying: "Like this one they shall give."
What was so difficult for Moshe to understand about the half shekel? Did Hashem actually need to show it to him? And how does the “coin of fire” resolve this difficulty?
Moshe could not understand: How could a mere coin be "a ransom for his soul to G-d"? G-d answered him by showing him a "coin of fire." The Rebbe of Kotzk explains this to mean the following: when a person performs even a modest act of charity with the fire of passion and enthusiasm, he is indeed giving a piece of his soul.
It’s not just what we do; it’s how we do it.
The Chasidic master Reb Elimelech further explains that money is fire. Like fire, it can destroy, or illuminate, depending on how it is used.
Why only a half coin and not a complete coin?
The verse states: “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less.” This teaches us that rich and poor are all equal in G-d’s eyes.
People differ in their smarts, character, talents, and in the quantity of their material resources. Yet all are equal in their bond with G-d. Our commitment to Him resides at the core of our souls. While everyone contributed to the making of the various components of the Mishkan in accordance with their individual capacity, all gave equally of the silver of which its foundation was made.This is the foundation of the relationship between us and Hashem, the "rich man" cannot give more, and the "poor" cannot give less.
Another reason is To teach us that no person is a complete entity unto him or herself. Only by joining with another can a person become a "whole thing".
This connects with my Hebrew name Chaya which means life! Chasidic teachings indicate that LIFE happens when we make room for others.
Thank You, and Shabbat Shalom.