Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Ki Sisa

Pocketbook Judaism

By Rabbi Yaakov Menken

HaShem spoke to Moses saying, 'when you take a census from the children of Israel according to their numbers... This is what they will give, all who pass through the counting: one-half Shekel according to the sacred Shekel...'" [30:11-12, 14]

The Chassidic Rebbes derive new lessons from the Torah by parsing the verses in new ways, looking for alternate meanings in the words. My wife's grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Hertzberg zt"l, was no exception -- and, like the famous Reb Levi of Berditchev, he also looked for the merits in every Jewish soul.

He notes that verse 11 literally reads: "when you lift up the Children of Israel according to their numbers." The word "pass through" in verse 14 can also mean "to trespass," and the word used for counting also means 'command' [a 'pakud' can either mean something which is counted, or a soldier -- perhaps because soldiers are counted]. Thus we can read the phrase "all who pass through the counting" as "all who trespass the commands."

And Rav Hertzberg says: when you want to lift up the Children of Israel, and acknowledge their value, do not look only at how well they observe the rules of the Torah. Look also at their Shekalim, and how they give them away. Look at their generosity. Then you will realize that "they will give!" They give charity. This applies even to "all who trespass the commands," those who did not observe the laws of the Torah. They give -- and you should recognize this merit. And it's true -- even the most unaffiliated Jews care about their causes and give great sums to charity.

HaShem showed Moshe a Shekel of fire. What happens when one brings fire in contact with something which is glowing, but not yet burning? The fire, of course, can cause the other object to light. Every Jewish soul is a spark waiting to light -- and fire can help it to burst forth. Both Tzedakah (charity) and Torah are compared to fire.

When one gives charity, he or she builds a connection between the giver and the receiver. When one gives to other Jews and Jewish organizations, the giver feels more connected with Jews and Judaism. Those who give to Israel, care about Israel. The giving is not merely a sign that one cares -- rather, the giving also causes the giver to care. Don't belittle "cardiac Jews," even if they do little else than give to Jewish causes! The Jewish heart beats within, maintaining a connection.

Giving to Jewish causes must be encouraged in a world where Jewish hearts are fading, where assimilation is the raging fire which must be fought with the fire of Tzedakah, and the fire of Torah. Marginally-affiliated Jews are leading supporters of hospitals, universities, services for inner-city youth, and other charities of all kinds. If we encourage them to support Jewish causes as well, then we can help retain their connection to Judaism for future generations.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


Text Copyright 2004 by Torah.org.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis - Torah.org.


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

A Good Eye
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Murphy's Day
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Payment in Full
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

17th of Tammuz: Why We Fast - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

The Three Weeks: What Are We Trying to Achieve?
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5768

How?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

ArtScroll

The Shepherd Sticks with His Flock
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Of Prophets and Teachers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

By The Rivers of Babylon...
Shlomo Katz - 5759

> Shabbos Chazon
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Father Knows Best
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Our Father, Our Light
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Sense and Sensitivity
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

And So The Journey Continues
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Choosing a Vision
- 5768

Personal Judge
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information