November 19, 2018

Machatzit HaShekel – Remembering the other half

Purim is a celebration with something for everyone – an exciting story with  the reading of the Megilla , mishloach manot , or the exchanging of delicacies to friends and neighbors, the festive Purim seudah (meal) with plenty of food and wine, costumes and laughter.  But there’s another very important mitzvah on Purim that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.  That mitzvah is the giving of the machatzit hashekel, or the half of a shekel, a coin used in the time of the Temple. The mitzvah of the giving of the machatzit hashekel on Purim is in remembrance of the yearly requirement in the times of the Temple to give a half shekel for the purpose of the upkeep of the Temple. 

On Purim, the mitzvah requires one to give three coins representing a half denomination of one’s country’s currency.  The best coin to use for this mitzvah in the U.S. is the half dollar. This exact amount must be used for the mitzvah.  According to