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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Shekalim - Do We Have a 50% Ceiling?

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.

Posted on 03/03 at 10:51 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at