A popular Ad/Commercial playing nowadays in the secular media is from a well-known Bank that touts the benefits of owning their credit card and all of the wonderful products and services you can purchase with it; their hook tag line is the question, “What’s in Your Wallet”. It’s certainly a catchy phrase designed to increase a consumer’s conspicuous consumption; but lest the Madison Avenue advertising company responsible for this campaign preen for kudos, be it known that this weeks Parsha was first to pose and answer this question from the perspective of Torah Hadracha and Hashkafa.
Bnai Yisroel were commanded to give a Ma’chatzis Ha’Shekel for the purpose of carrying out their Census.
The Posuk tells us: “Zeh Yitnu Kol Hoh’Oveir Al Hapekudim Ma’chatzis Ha’Shekel Be’Shekel Hakodesh…Lo’seis Es Terumas Hashem Le’Chapear Al Nafshoseichem“.
Harav Shimshon Pincus, ZT”L poses three questions on this Posuk:
1. What is the Torah’s message that this small amount of a half shekel had and has the power to atone and save one’s Nefesh and to prolong life and the quality of it?
2. Why does the Torah describe the Macahtzis Ha’Shekel as “Shekel Hakodesh”?
3. Why does Hashem emphasize a specificity in the coin type of Machatsis Ha’Shekel with “Zeh Yitnu”?
Rav Pincus brings the Rashi; “Zeh Yitnu”- Heroh Hakodesh Boruch Hu L’Moshe Ke’min Matbeyah Shel Eish U’Mishkoloh Ma’chatsis Ha’Shekel, Ve’Omer Lo: Ko’Zeh Yitnu”.
The Torah’s message, says Rav Pincus, is that our Tzedakah should be with Matbeiyos Shel Eish to be given with a bren, with enthusiasm, with a Simchas Ha’Chaim, and with an empathy and kind words to and for the recipient; “Ko’zeh Yitnu”. The characteristic of Eish is that it cleanses and does not allow impurities and foreign particles to enter the mix.
And the sources of our monies as well as its expenditures must be “Shekel Ha’Kodesh”; the power of Tzedakah and hekdesh of money is not only in the support of Torah, Chessed organizations, and needy individuals but also as much in the avoidance of that which is antithetical to Torah values and Hashkafah. Such negative expenditures, says Rav Pincus, diminish ones Beis Mikdash Me’At and devalues his “Shekel Ha’Kodesh.
The Torah’s message to us, say Harav Pincus, is that Kesef Yehudi is not a Mah Be’Kach but are “Matbeiyos Shel Aish” and we therefore have a Choiv Kodesh to preserve, protect, and use it Be’Kedusha; “Ve’Oz YeShamshu Le’Chapear al Nafshoseinu, Ve’Yoveeyu Berochos Merubos El Boteinu”.
“What’s in your wallet”?