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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Shekalim - Do We Have a 50% Ceiling?

By Rabbi Sender Haber

None of us are perfect. We are born half good and half bad. That is part of being human. There will always be a part of us that is insensitive, egotistic, and irrational. There is another half as well that is full of holiness, giving, and yearning.

We will never completely eradicate one half or the other. The Bnei Yisoschar points out that Shekel has the same numerical value as Nefesh. When we donated a half-shekel toward the building of the Mishkan, we were giving our soul - but only the good half.

Moshe had trouble with this. How could we suffice with just one half? How could the Mishkan be built with our half-shekel? Don’t we need to bring the whole thing? Don’t we want to be perfect?

Hashem responded by showing Moshe the half-shekel he was referring to. He removed it from under his Heavenly throne and it was on fire. He explained that this was the Shekel he sought.

Rav Dessler explains that it is inevitable that our bad half will exist, but we can overcome it by lighting our good half on fire. If we have a burning desire to do good and to be good, it will not matter that we are not quite perfect.

None of is perfect on our own, but by passionately putting our halves together we can build an edifice in which Hashem will dwell. 

Rav Saadiah Gaon writes that each of us is only half a neshama. Our husband or wife is the other half. Perhaps this is one way to understand it. By putting our good halves together, complimenting and learning from one another, we can truly become one perfect whole.

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