This week is Shabbat Shekalim. In addition to reading our weekly portion, we read a supplemental reading, Exodus 30: 11-21 from Parashat Ki-Tissa. A census was taken through the collection of half-shekels from adult males. Rich and poor alike gave the same amount, with the funds going towards the upkeep of the Tabernacle.
This portion is read on the Shabbat prior to the month of Adar (in this year’s case, Adar II). It is a harbinger of spring. It is a time when much of the world begins to thaw out from winter and spring cleaning on a small and large scale commences. The Mishnah in Tractate Shekalim describes this as a season of repairing roads and engaging in other major civic projects that require tax revenue. It’s interesting that this happens to be the busy season for American CPA’s, with the looming Apri 15 IRS tax deadline quickly approaching. Factoring inflation over the last 3,000 years, the half-shekel doesn’t go as far as it did in the time of the Torah. So, my tie represents the growth in value of the half-shekel since Biblical times.