Parshas Ki Sisa

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The Half Shekel

G-d showed Moshe a coin of fire weighing half a shekel, and He said, ‘They should give one like this’” (Rashi v. 13).

Fire differs from all other elements on this earth, in that it strives upward, reaching ever higher, dancing, flickering, until finally it frees itself of its chains when the wick burns out and it unites with its source. Fire is the paradigm of self-effacement, having no distinct shape or form of its own.

A coin, however, is hewed from the depths of the earth, the lowest of the four elements that constitute the makeup of this world. The antithesis of fire, the coin falls ever downward, clearly defined in its shape and form. Fire represents the transcendence of the spiritual; a coin represents the crassness of the physical.

It was not despite the sharp contrast between them, but specifically because of it, that G-d showed Moshe a coin of fire. G-d taught Moshe that the coarse and the unrefined is not necessarily the antithesis of the most holy and pure. The physical does not repel the spiritual, rather they can work in harmony, until they reach complete fusion, absolute unity, as represented by a coin made of fire.

On a practical level, G-d taught Moshe that even coarse human beings who are naturally driven by selfish motives, self-love being their basic instinct, can also serve the Divine with the most noble of services, as represented by the complete selflessness of fire.

(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Ki Sisa 5749)

Some time ago Kol Menachem launched an online classroom for Jews on the go – ‘Torah in Ten’. The series provides weekly insightful conversations on the current Torah portion. The class includes interesting commentaries from renowned historical figures as well as modern views in addition to thought provoking and inspiring questions.Announcing his new idea Rabbi Miller wrote: “In this go, go, go world we live in, it can be difficult to sit down and find time to study the weekly parsha. And when shabbos rolls around, we all wish we had studied more and could contribute to the conversation at the shabbos table. Not to mention our children, don’t we all wish we could provide them beautiful insights into the weekly parsha?”.

‘Torah in Ten’ is now available not only from a computer. Asked by Jewish iPhone Community and many more iPhone users Kol Menachem kindly agreed to change the format of presentation so that weekly portion of ‘Torah in Ten’ was available to be watched on iPhone’s/iPad’s screens. Nu, now then, what kind of excuse will you come up with? Torah in Ten will take place every Thursday, for ten minutes. Let’s sum up with Rebbe’s words: “Our task is solely to illuminate the world with the light of Torah, Judaism and Chassidus”.

“Torah In Ten” videocast by Rabbi Chaim Miller – Parshas Sisa


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