The Double Edge

PARASHAT KI TISA: Why did Moshe ask G-d to specifically explain the laws of Menorah, insects and Rosh Chodesh? Why not also the half-shekel?

By Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn

The symbol of the double edged sword is a familiar Biblical image (see for example Tehilim 149:6). The double edged sword is also the source for life’s common metaphor. So much of life can be used for good or for bad.

The Talmud in Menachos 28a reports that Moshe asked G-d to explain 3 things:  Menorah, Sheratzim (impure crawling creatures), and Rosh Chodesh. Tosefos (commentary on the Talmud) asks why the list left out Moshe’s request to understand the Machatzis HaShekel (the half Shekel coin), as Rashi informs us that G-d illustrated its function via a coin of fire. Rabbi Zevulun Charlop answers that Moshe truly did not understand the function of the Menorah, Sheratzim, and Rosh Chodesh. He did understand the need for the Machatzis HaShekel. What he didn’t understand, though, was how something so mundane as money could be used to promote holiness.

G-d’s answer is that, like fire, money can be used for good or bad. May we use what we have – and more importantly, use it well.

Originally appears on YUTorah

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