A Sale of Olympic Proportions
"Go ForThe Gold"
Each Person Counts
In The Community
RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
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The Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit
Wishes To Inform The Public That:
Betty Crocker Creamy Deluxe Cream Cheese Frosting is OUD (Dairy). Duncan
Hines Cream Cheese Frosting is Pareve.
Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Cookies have the OUD (Dairy) on some of their
items. Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers are NOT certified.
McCain ultimate seasoned Crinkle Cut Fried Potatoes bears an unauthorized
OU symbol when the production code begins with the letter "0."
The Kof- K will not be providing supervision to any program at the Concord
Resort Hotel, in spite of some advertisements in the Anglo-Jewish Media.
Celestial Seasonings After Dinner Teas are NOT certified by the Star K.
Getting A Get
The Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit wishes to inform
the Jewish public that a Civil Divorce without a Jewish Get is worth-
less according to Jewish law. A couple may not remarry in Jewish law
until after a Get. To arrange a get, call our office (810) 559-5005.
17071 West 10 Mile Road • Southfield, MI 48075 • 559-5005/06
n this week's special Torah
portion we again read
the Parshat Shekalim, the
unique census which was
first conducted during the for-
mative years of Jewish history.
`The Lord said to Moses: When
you take the census of the
people of Israel . . . each of the
people who is numbered in the
census shall give this: half a
shekel" (Exodus 30:11-13). Each
person would give a machatzit
hashekel, a half-shekel dona-
tion; the coins were then
counted and the exact popula-
tion was known. The money col-
lected in this manner was to be
used for the upkeep of the Sanc-
In later years, this half
shekel became an annual tax,
the money going for the Temple
in Jerusalem. The daily com-
munal sacrifices that were of-
fered in the Temple came from
the monies of the half-shekel.
This half-shekel was due at the
beginning of the month of Adar,
at this season of the year.
Jews living outside of Israel
would also send their contribu-
tion for this purpose so that
they, too, might be represented
in the daily sacrifices. After the
destruction of the Temple, the
Jews of the Diaspora continued
to send money to support
yeshivot and centers of higher
learning in the Holy Land.
In our times we recall the an-
cient practice of the half shekel
donation by reading the Par-
shat Shekalim, the chapter of
the Jewish census, on the Shab-
bat preceeding the month of
Adar. This Sabbath is, there-
fore, known as Shabbat
A number of questions can be
asked about this unique Jewish
census. First, what a strange
way to count! Why does the
Torah insist on counting coins
and not people? Was this some
type of ancient superstition?
And then, why was a fraction-
al coin, the half-shekel, chosen
for the census, not a full shekel?
Our Jewish tradition under-
stood that counting people can
be transferred into a degrading
experience. Since each person
can be seen as representing an
entire world, our tradition is op-
posed to counting people in bulk
numbers. People should never
be seen as mere numbers, cer-
tainly not as raw, impersonal
And so when a census was
Morton Yolkut is rabbi of Congre-
gation B'nai David
conducted, the Torah asks each
individual to give something of
value to the community. In the
Jewish census the people to be
counted assume importance
only if they are willing to stand
up and contribute their part
toward the welfare of their
eople. If they wish to be counted
as part of a unified community,
they had to learn that this could
not be accomplished without
giving of themselves and their
resources. There is no receiving
without giving. The two, in fact,
go hand in hand.
The second question — why
a half-shekel is also related to
this theme of communal re-
sponsibility. There are affluent
Jews, who feel that they alone
are the "movers and shakers"
of the Jewish community, and
no one else can live up to their
standards of generosity and
philanthropy. On the other
hand, there are people of mod-
est means who feel that their
contribution to Jewish life is so
small and insignificant, that
they need not bother making it
Both groups consider only
half the proposition. To such
II Kings 12:1-17.
people the Torah says that
every person gives only a half
shekel, exactly the same sum.
The rich do not bring more, so
that no one feels that the sanc-
tuary is his alone. The poor do
not bring less, so that no one
feels that he is too insignificant
to be part of the community.
Everyone makes his own
partial contribution to Jewish
life and together these com-
bined contributions add up to
the full count of the members of
the Jewish people.
This is the moral lesson of
Shabbat Shekalim and the half-
shekel contribution collected at
this time of the year. It is a
lesson about communal re-
sponsibility. Every Jew must
feel, at once, that he is indeed
essential to the survival of the
Jewish people and yet that he
alone cannot guarantee its
Each one of us must make
his own contribution, and every
Jew must be counted. ❑