The Machatzit HaShekel mitzvah was practiced during the time of the Beit HaMikdash in order to support the Temple’s expenses. Hashem commanded Moshe that when counting the people of Israel, he should not conduct a regular counting of each individual. Rather, the counting of the people of Israel should be done so that each Jew provides an identical sum or half a shekel. The emphasis on all Jews giving an identical sum, which is not found in other mitzvahs, implies that all Jews are equal and there are no differences in status when it comes to God. In modern times, the half shekel would amount to approximately 28 NIS or 7 USD.
Today, on Taanit Esther or the Fast of Esther, the Sages ruled that in commemoration of the Temple, the half shekel donation should continue to be given, with the hope that the Third Temple will be rebuilt again in our time! It is said that those who give “half a shekel” are assured to earn Olam Haba (or afterlife) and all decrees issued against themselves or their family, are annulled. And the one who perseveres the mitzvah every year will live long and prosper!
Join High On The Har in celebrating this mitzvah and honoring the Temple during this festive season! It is only through your support that we can realize the dream of rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash so that the Divine Presence will dwell amongst us and we can, once again, worship God in his Holy House.