Talmud Tips

For the week ending 19 October 2013 / 15 Heshvan 5774

Shekalim 2 - 8

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“On the first day of Adar they would announce regarding the Shekalim”

The above statement in the mishna opens our new masechta, Shekalim, and teaches that on the first of Adar messengers of Beit Din were sent to announce to the people to bring the machzit hashekel – to fulfill the mitzvah of bringing the “half shekel” – to the Beit Hamikdash. This money was used to purchase the public sacrifices for the “new year” that would begin one month later on the first day of Nissan.

One might ask, “Why was there was no similar announcement made to remind the people regarding the bringing of the personal sacrifices they needed to bring on each Festival?” The “Alei Tamar” – an Acharon – explains that the personal sacrifices were different since they were eaten by the owners or brought for atonement – unlike the public sacrifices bought with the shekalim and burnt on the Altar. Therefore it wasn’t necessary to remind the people to bring their personal sacrifices, since they would certainly remember to bring them.

  • Shekalim 2a

“The righteousness (charity) and judgment that you do is dearer to Me than the sacrifices”

G-d consoled King David with this statement, that although his son Solomon – and not he – would build the Beit Hamikdash, the activities of King David were more beloved by G-d. This statement is based on a verse in Proverbs (21:3). The commentators explain that although the sacrifices in the Beit Hamikdash atoned for sins, nevertheless the judgments and righteousness of King David caused people to cease from sinning, which is certainly preferred. The Yerushalmi Talmud adds in Tractate Sanhedrin that King David would give charity out of his own pocket if the party he pronounced as guilty was poor and could not afford to pay the plaintiff. This is what is meant by the “tzedaka” that King David did with judgment – judgment with charity - as stated in the verse in Proverbs.

  • Shekalim 7b

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