Kings II : 12
This week’s haftorah, read in conjunction with Parshas Sh’kalim, deals with the collection of funds for the Bais Hamikdash. Before King Yehoash’s reign, the Bais Hamikdash was seriously neglected and much repair work was necessary to restore it to its original splendor. When the righteous King Yehoash came into power, he immediately instructed the kohanim to collect the nescessary funds. After their unsuccessful attempt in achieving this goal he personally spearheaded the collection and received an overwhelming response.
The reason for this terrible neglect is explained in Divrei Hayomim (2:23) wherein the wicked Queen Atalya and her sons are blamed for the deteriorated condition of the Bais Hamikdash. The royal family severely mistreated the holiest structure in the world by carelessly roaming inside it, bringing much damage to its interior walls and structure. Although the Jewish people consistently donated funds to repair the Bais Hamikdash,the wicked sovereign repeatedly misappropriated them. Instead of using them for the Bais Hamikdash, she channeled them to further her idolatrous practices. After the pious Yehoash came to power, he removed idolatry from the royal family and faithfully applied the collected funds to their intended usage. After many years of neglect, the Bais Hamikdash was finally restored to its previous glory.
The pattern in this haftorah is reminiscent of the Jewish people’s formative stages as a nation. This week’s maftir reading alludes to the Jewish people’s comeback after abusing their financial resources, resulting in their most shameful plunge in history. (see Daas Z’kainim S’hmos 30:13). Moments before the Jewish people miraculously left Egypt, Hashem rewarded them with abundant wealth. Hashem effected a change of heart in the ruthless Egyptian slave drivers and they generously showered the Jewish people with gifts and wealth. However, the Jewish people did not properly appreciate Hashem’s unbelievable favor and became influenced by their newly gained wealth and power. During very trying and desperate moments, their newly gained sense of control heavily influenced them. Instead of turning to Hashem for assistance, they applied their wealth and golden ornaments towards securing their own destiny and produced the Golden Calf. Hashem severely responded to this grave offense and the Jewish people sincerely repented to Hashem. Hashem then granted them opportunity to rectify their sin by inviting them to participate in the erection of the Mishkan. They learned their lesson well and generously applied their money to a most appropriate cause, the construction of Hashem’s magnificent sanctuary. Hashem recognized their new approach to wealth and its potential good and deemed them worthy of His Divine Presence for the next thousand years.
The reading of Parshas Sh’kalim and its accompanying haftorah are a most befitting introduction to our month of Adar. We read in Megillas Esther (3:9), that the wicked Haman offered the king an impressive ten thousand silver blocks in attampt to purchase the Jewish people from the wicked King Achashveirosh. Haman intended to use his wealth to influence the king to grant him permission to destroy the entire Jewish nation. However, Chazal teach us that Haman’s efforts were preempted by the the Jewish people’s annual donation during the month of Adar to the Bais Hamikdash . By no coincidence, Hashem instructed the Jewish people to annually donate this exact sum – ten thousand silver blocks – to His treasury for sacrifices in the Bais Hamikdash. Hashem said, “Let the Jewish nation’s sacrificial donation of ten thousand blocks preempt Haman’s attempt to influence the king with his ten thousand blocks” (see Mesichta Megilla 13b).
The meaning of this seems to be that the Jewish people’s annual donation demonstrated their proper understanding of wealth and its power. They allocated their wealth to the most worthy of causes and eagerly donated annually – without fail – ten thousand blocks of silver to Hashem and the Bais Hamikdash. This perfect approach to wealth and its positive values protected them from Haman’s financial influence on the king. The Jewish people understood the true value of wealth and were not personally influenced by its potential ills. Therefore, they were not subject to Haman’s financial influence and his powerful seductive approach to the king could not determine their fate. Eventually, the king would and did see through Haman’s madness for power and all Haman’s power and financial influence were of no avail.