Updated: Mar 14, 2022
What matters most in life? What should we see as our crowning glory, the thing which defines our self-worth? This is a question that has bothered people for eons. The answer that a person gives can tell us a great deal about them.
Sometimes we can see what a person prioritises from how they talk about the things in their life. Those objects which either are necessary to fulfil their highest priorities or somehow reflect themselves become a person's most valued possessions. This week, the Torah asks us for one of our possessions. Every year we must each give a half shekel to the Temple (in those days quite a large amount of silver) to pay for the public sacrifices. The Torah refers to this donation as the "shekel hakodesh," or the holy shekel.
Why was the Shekel referred to as holy? Ramban explained by referencing an important point. When are we close enough to perfect? Says the Ramban, when we prove it. We approach perfection only when we act in that fashion. The Shekel as well is holy because it is used for holiness. Having been used for a mitzvah then characterise the object. Its identity is changed and becomes significant to us by virtue of what was done with it.
Let us all use the encouragement of the Torah here to make ourselves more holy. As we choose a path, let us keep in mind not just what is right, not just what we want, but what sort of person we see ourselves become and how we can make that person a better one.