Machatzit Hashekel Online 2023 –observe the mitzvah today with Beit Chabad
Machatzit HaShekel mitzvah was practiced while Beit HaMikdash existed, and the money was donated to Beit HaMikdash treasury.
Today the donation is given as a commemoration of the Half-Shekel and it says in the Holy books that the one who gives half a shekel is assured to earn Olam Haba (afterlife)
Even if a decree is issued against him or his family, it is annulled.
And the one who perseveres the mitzvah every year will live long and prosper.
This is your opportunity to observe the mitzvah of Machatzit HaShekel through Beit Chabad website!
It is customary to donate a sum of money equal to the value of the original half of a shekel, and today, in the year of 2023, the sum is about $ 8 per person, and any extra charity is rewarded from the heavens.
All the names of those donating will be mentioned for a blessing by the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi in meron in the galilee of Israel
Donations can be sent by credit card or Paypal and are tax deductible according to Section 46A in Israel
Clearing of funds and issued receipts are done by the Beit Chabad Foundation, Sderot, under Tzeirei Agudat Chabad Bn No. 580134229
Machatzit HaShekel – (The half of shekel) God’s command
Hashem commanded Moshe Rabeinu that when counting the people of Israel, he should not conduct a regular counting that could cause the evil eye.
But rather, the counting of the people of Israel should be done thus that each Jew provides an identical sum to charity (half a shekel), according to Torah “the rich shall not give excessively and the poor should not be stingy”. Afterwards, the coins are counted and thus the number of Jews will be known.
The donations were used for the expenses beit HaMikdash and purchasing Korbanot.
Observing the mitzvah for the first time
In the first time, collection of the donation from the people of Israel was done after the Chet Ha’Eggel which resulted in many Jews dying as punishment.
After that, Hashem commanded that the people of Israel should be counted, thus expressing His great love for them.
Rashi, in his interpretation of the Torah, writes the following:
There was once a shepherd who owned much livestock, one day a plague resulted in the death of part of his flock.
The owner told the shepherd – go and count the animals so we know how many survived.
The sheep and goats were liked by their owner, and this affection is expressed by the fact that one counts and enumerates that which is dear to him, thus Hashem commanded to count the people of Israel due to His affection.
It is said in the holy books that donation constitutes atonement for the people of Israel and as the Torah states “each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life “.
It is told that Moshe Rabeinu wondered how it is possible for a sum of money to atone for one’s sins?
Hashem answered him – I do not ask to be given according to my ability, but according to theirs.
The sins for which the mitzvah atones
According to the literal interpretation, the mitzvah of the half of shekel is atonement for the Chet Ha’Eggel.
It is said in the books that the atonement was also for the sin of selling Joseph.
Coin of fire
In the Midrash, it is said that when Hashem told Moshe Rabeinu “is to give”, He pulled out a coin of fire and showed it to Moshe Rabeinu, telling him what kind of coin should be given.
According to Chasidut, it is explained that the reason Hashem showed Moshe Rabeinu a coin of fire is not because Moshe Rabeinu did not grasp the size of the coin or had some other technical question.
Rather, using the fire, Hashem wanted to tell him – thanks to sacredness, even a great sin can be atoned for.
The emphasis on an identical sum
It is emphasized in the mitzvah to give an identical sum of a half shekel, the rich should not give more and the poor cannot give less, the emphasis is on giving an identical sum, which is not found in other mitzvahs.
Thus, it is implied that internally, all Jews are equal and there are no class differences when it comes to God, and so there is an emphasis on everyone giving the exact same amount.
The emphasis on a half shekel
The Torah emphasizes “according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs”. That is, the weight of a full shekel is 20.
It is emphasized that a half should be given, expressing that each Jew on his own represents a half – In order to be whole, one must become one with Hashem who completes the Jew into a whole entity.
The half of shekel at the times of Beit HaMikdash
Every year, every Jew was charged the annual tax, the funds went towards the expenses of Beit HaMikdash.
The Machatzit HaShekel today | A commemoration of the half of shekel
Nowadays, there is no Beit HaMikdash, so Our Sages ruled that a commemoration of the half of shekel should still be in place, as was customary at the time of Beit HaMikdash.
The money can be donated to families in need or for a synagogue’s expenses, a beit midrash and other charitable needs.
It’s important to state commemoration so one doesn’t mistakenly associate it with holiness.
How much is a half of shekel 2023
The exact sum is discussed in Shulchan Aruch and in the Halakha, there are several methods which we will enumerate here:
There are those who believe that we should follow the value of the coin at the time of the Beit HaMikdash – approximately 9 grams of pure silver (there are several methods to calculate this, the number ranges between 8.5-9.6)
The half of shekel sum is updated every year around the time of Purim
This year, 5783–2023, the sum is approx. NIS 24.
We take a coin whose value is one half, in Israel one must take a half a shekel, in the US half a dollar and so on.
The custom is to give 3 coins with a value of half
When is the half of shekel donation given?
The donation is given during the month of Adar, it is customary to observe the mitzvah on Purim eve before the mincha prayer.
Those bound by the mitzvah
Men of age higher than 13 or 20 (there are two methods in the Halakha)
The custom as provided by the Poskim
To give to all members of the household, even to a fetus in his mother’s womb.
Machatzit HaShekel Chabad
It is a great virtue to give donation money to Beit Chabad which according to the Rebbe, deals in all of the three pillars on which the world stands – Torah, prayer, and Gemilut Chassadim (loving-kindness).
Thus, when donating, one takes part in the three perfections: Charitable activity, Torah lessons, and partnership in a synagogue.
Read also about Matanot L’evyonim