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ONLINE Machatzit HaShekel

It is customary to donate money before Purim as “a commemoration of the Half-Shekel” which was donated by the entire Jewish nation when the Bet Hamikdash stood.

This money is customarily collected on the eve of Purim before reading the Megillah, as our Sages tell us (Megilla 13b) that “it is revealed and known before the creator of the world that Haman would, in the future, weigh Shekalim against the Jews, therefore, He preceded their Shekalim to his.” Nevertheless, one may donate this sum before this time, any time following Rosh Chodesh Adar.

Not Calling this Sum the “Half-Shekel”

The Poskim write that nowadays one should be careful not to call this sum of money “the Half-Shekel,” rather, “a commemoration of the Half-Shekel,” for if one would call it the former, there is concern that this money may be consecrated to the Bet Hamikdash and thus be prohibited to benefit from, thereby prohibiting its distribution to the poor.

This is mentioned openly in the Responsa of the Geonim that “calling Tzedakah money ‘the Half-Shekel’ is improper and this money becomes prohibited to benefit from.” Thus, it is proper to call this money just a “commemoration of the Half-Shekel” in order to avoid any doubt.

The Amount One Should Donate for the Commemoration of the Half-Shekel

What is the amount one should donate in commemoration of the Half-Shekel? The actual Half-Shekel coin amounted to the weight of nine grams of pure silver.  However, if one’s financial situation does not allow one to donate this amount, donating any coin in commemoration of the Half-Shekel is sufficient.

Women must also donate money in commemoration of the Half-Shekel and it is proper for one to donate this amount for one’s small children as well. Some have the custom to donate this amount for their unborn babies as well. (Torat Ha’Mo’adim)

This money must be given as charity to the poor, especially poor Torah scholars. Hagaon Harav Chaim Palagi writes in his Sefer Ruach Chaim (Chapter 694, Subsection 2) that this money should be given to needy Torah scholars who toil tirelessly in Torah. This is the most important charity of all. Whoever works to raise the glory of the Torah and those who study it shall merit seeing the raised glory of Israel. As our Sages tell us (Baba Batra 10b): “Through what merit will the glory of Israel be raised? Through ‘Ki Tisa’ (donating charity).’”

The appropriate sum that one should donate in commemoration of the Half-Shekel this year (5779) is approximately $5 or $6 (USD) per person. 

perform the mitzvah online

If you would like to perform this Minhag with actual silver coins, you are welcome to come to Kehillat Shaar HaShamayim any day before Purim, or before Megillah reading on Wednesday. We have three silver coins (generously donated by the Savin family) for this purpose.

If you will be unable to do so, you can use the convenient form below to perform this precious custom.

Minimum Machatzit HaShekel Donation

Choose one ($6) for each person in your household

Personalized Machatzit HaShekel Donation

Instead of, or in addition to - the minimum amount above, you can instead choose to donate your own Machatzit HaShekel as a sum higher than $6 per person.

Please provide the names (Hebrew or English) of the household members you are performing Machatzit HaShekel for, aside from your name entered above.

 

Mon, March 25 2019 18 Adar II 5779