The half shekel of service delivery

  • ParshaRevMatzner
Service delivery is a sacred obligation in our religion. You could say that it is illustrated in the mitzvah of giving the yearly half shekel. This obligation devolves on every Jewish family and has been loyally adhered to for well over 3 000 years by rich and poor alike.

The rich are not allowed to give more than a half shekel and the poor cannot give less. The rich cannot claim a greater share, nor can the poor claim exemption because of poverty. Every Jew has to contribute to the daily temple service for the welfare of the nation.

We may call this divine service delivery. Service delivery is a divine duty. There can never be any justification for lack of delivery.

The half shekels were used to buy the national daily sacrifices on behalf of every individual in the nation.

Richness or poverty pulls no weight in the face of duty. Adam was not born with any rights. In fact, he was created with a set of duties and prohibitions later developed by the Torah. The Torah speaks from the premise of duty, not of rights.

The nation, like the community, like the congregation, is a holy concept and represents a heightened social existence in which every member serves the interest of the whole. In a Jewish community everybody from bar or bat mitzvah age, without exception, is a service deliverer and a service provider. Nothing less will do.

Therefore, as an educational divine project the half shekel is unique.


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