In this weeks pasha we learn of the mandatory census in which Moshe was ordered to take of the Jewish people. Each member of the Jewish nation is required to pay a mandatory half Shekel which would be set aside for the building of the אדנים (The sockets of the Mishkan). It is quite however that we also learn in this weeks Parsha that merely counting the Jewish people without collecting this mandatory fee of half a Shekel, is strongly forbidden. This concept in the Parsha can come to teach us two vitally important lessons in how we as the Jewish people should interact on a national level.
1) The reason why Hashem told Moshe not to count the Jewish people without collecting the money is because counting the Jewish people cannot be something without purpose. We as a nation have one common destiny, the mere reality of counting with no purpose symbolizes that our existence is in vain. The mere idea of counting implies the idea of being involved in something of value and purpose. By each member of the nation contributing that half a Shekel, we are actively showing that as a Jewish nation we have a purpose and responsibility to build a dwelling space for Hashem (the Mishkan).
2) A few Parshayot back, we learn of the different vessels and attributes of the Mishkan. There was allot of luxury and art dedicated into the building of the many garments and structures which were used in the Mishkan, tallying up a large cost on behalf of the entire Jewish nation. The Torah, however, mentions that certain parts of the Mishkan costs were covered by voluntarily contributions. Meaning that it was not mandatory for everyone to assist in certain parts of the Mishkan’s construction. Furthermore we learn that only the contributions which were purely out of passion were accepted. No contributions were accepted by those simply seeking to retain honor. It seems out of place to mention in our Parsha that every single Jew was required to assist in the construction of the Mishkan Sockets. Why are most parts of the contribution towards the Mishkan optional whereas the Sockets are mandatory by all (rich, poor, honored, shamed). The answer is simply beautiful. The Sockets of the Mishkan are what enable for its movement. They offer a foundation for the entire dwelling of Hashem. By making it incumbent on all of Bnei Yisrael to contribute Hashem is saying that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from you are vital in the foundation of this nation and my presence can only be supported by all of you together.
Student Studying in Yeshivat Lev HaTorah