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Introduction to Shekalim

Shekalim 2

SHEKALIM 2 - has been generously dedicated by Lee and Marsha Weinblatt of Teaneck, N.J.


OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that the announcement to begin giving the Shekalim is made on the first of Adar each year. The Shekalim that are collected, though, are not needed until the first of Nisan, when the Terumas ha'Lishkah is performed and the money is used to buy Korbanos Tzibur. Why is the announcement made thirty days before the Shekalim are needed?
(a) The Gemara in Megilah (29b) explains that we begin to be "Sho'el v'Doresh b'Inyano Shel Chag Sheloshim Yom li'Fnei ha'Chag" -- we expound in public the Halachos of the festival *thirty days* before the festival begins. We see from there that the period of preparation for an event is thirty days. Similarly, the Gemara in Megilah explains, in preparation for buying the Korbanos Tzibur on the first of Nisan the announcement about the collection of Shekalim is made thirty days in advance.

The Gemara in Megilah cites another opinion, that of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, who maintains that we expound the Halachos of the festival only fourteen days (two weeks) before the festival. We see, then, that according to Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, the time period of preparation is fourteen days, and not thirty days. The Gemara in Megilah explains that according to his opinion, they would announce the collection on the first of Adar because that is fourteen days before the fifteenth of Adar, which is the day which the collection begins in full earnest, the day on which the money-changers began to operate (and Beis Din begins taking collateral from people who did not yet give the half-Shekel).

(b) RABEINU MESHULAM suggests an original explanation. The Gemara (Ta'anis 7a) says that it takes fifteen days to travel from Yerushalayim to the farthest point in Eretz Yisrael. The announcement made on the first of Adar was to announce the collection of the Shekalim from the residents of Eretz Yisrael (the announcement for those who lived outside of Eretz Yisrael was made earlier, according to one opinion in the Gemara). The Beis Din in Yerushalayim makes the announcement, says Rabeinu Meshulam, and sends out messengers to inform all of the towns in Eretz Yisrael. It takes them fifteen days to arrive at the farthest places, and it takes another fifteen days for the Shekalim to arrive in Yerushalayim from those places. Therefore the announcement is made at the beginning of Adar.

The Gemara Bavli (in Megilah), which gives a different reason for the announcement being on the first of Adar, perhaps holds that the Shekalim may arrive later than the first of Nisan (in accordance with the other opinion in the Gemara here at the end of this Amud). The Gemara Yerushalmi, though, holds that all of the Shekalim must be collected by the time Nisan arrives, and therefore Rabeinu Meshulam is justified in suggesting that the reason for the announcement is simply to make sure that they arrive on time.

(c) The Gemara in Megilah (13b) gives another reason why the Shekalim were collected at the beginning of Adar. The Gemara says that Hashem commanded the Jewish people in the Midbar to give a half-Shekel, because it was known to Hashem that many generations later, the wicked Haman would give a large sum of Shekalim to Achashverosh for the rights to destroy the Jews. The sum of Shekalim that Haman would give would correspond to the total amount of Shekalim that the Jews gave when they were first commanded to give Shekalim in the Midbar. By commanding them to give Shekalim, Hashem prepared the cure before the illness, for in the merit of their Shekalim, the Shekalim of Haman were ineffective. Therefore, the Rabanan enacted that each year, the half-Shekel should be given before the time of Haman's lots (which were done on the thirteenth of Adar).

Why, though, did they enact that it be given *two weeks* before that time? The VILNA GA'ON (Mishnas Eliyahu) explains that the Midrash says that Haman rejoiced that his lots fell out on Adar, the Mazal of which is Dagim (Pisces). Haman viewed this as a bad omen for the Jews, for fish swallow each other, and thus the whole month had an ominous proclivity for the Jewish people. Therefore, the Shekalim are given at the beginning of Adar in order to arouse Hashem's mercy to make the Mazal of Adar be an auspicious one for the Jews (so that their *enemies* would be swallowed up like fish).


OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah later (3:1) which states that the Terumas ha'Lishkah is done three times during the year. The Gemara concludes that the reason the Terumas ha'Lishkah is done at three different times in the year, and not all at one time, is not because the money arrived from different places at different times, but rather to publicize the event of the Terumas ha'Lishkah. What is the purpose in publicizing it?
(a) RABEINU MESHULAM explains that the Terumas ha'Lishkah is publicized in order to show everyone that the Kohanim do something on behalf of the Tzibur with the Shekalim that they sent, so that the people should not think that they sent Shekalim for nothing.

(b) The TALMID SHEL RAV SHMUEL BAR SHNEUR and the TIKLIN CHADETIN explain that the three times during the year at which the Terumas ha'Lishkah is done are times of Aliyah la'Regel -- when the people who live far away come up to Yerushalayim. The Chachamim wanted to publicize to those people that their Shekalim were being used for the Korbenos Tzibur.

(c) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos, 3:1) explains that although the Terumah that is done in the beginning of the year is done on behalf of all of the Shekalim that were collected and that will yet be collected ("Al ha'Asid li'G'vos") that year, and thus it is done for all of the Jewish people, the Shekalim from the places that are far away do not actually arrive at the Beis ha'Mikdash until later. The Shekalim sent by the people who live close to Eretz Yisrael arrive by Shavuos, and the Shekalim of those who live far away from Eretz Yisrael arrive by Sukos. The Chachamim wanted to remind people from outside of Eretz Yisrael to bring their Shekalim, and therefore they instituted that the Terumas ha'Lishkah be performed at these times in order to remind the people that this is the time that their Shekalim must arrive. Since the people know that this public act is going to be done at that time in Yerushalayim, they will make sure to send their money early enough in order for it to arrive by that time.

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