News From Ramaz
By Avi F. (Grade 5)
In this week's parasha, Parashat במדבר, we learn about many things. In the beginning, Hashem commands Moshe to count every male that is age 20 or older. Hashem tells Moshe to ask each male over 20 for a מחצית השקל, a half-Shekel, and then count the money they collected. Then the Torah lists who will help Moshe and Aharon count the money. Afterward, when they are done with the counting, we are told how many people are in each tribe. Later, Hashem tells the Kohanim that they will be the ones to break apart and carry the Mishkan and move its pieces and then rebuild the Mishkan when Bnei Yisrael stopped and set up camp. We are also given a description of Bnei Yisrael's camp.
When Moshe was commanded to count every male that is age 20 or older, everyone had to give a half -Shekel. After they were counted, the half-Shekels were used to pay for the communal sacrifices.
The fact that God insisted that people give exactly half a shekel, neither more nor less, teaches us two things. One: it was done with a half-Shekel to show that no matter how much money you give to צדקה, even if it's very little, it is still helpful. Another thing we learn is that you are always part of a bigger community. The half-Shekel shows this because you need another half-Shekel to make a full one, which means you need other people to give as well; just giving yourself is not enough.