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Thursday, February 21, 2013

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Fast of Esther
Jewish History
Laws and Customs

In commemoration of the half shekel contributed by each Jew to the Holy Temple -- and which the Talmud credits as having counteracted the 10,000 silver coins Haman gave to King Ahasuerus to obtain the royal decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people -- it is customary to give three coins in "half denomination" (e.g., the half-dollar coins) to charity on the afternoon of the Fast of Esther. (In many synagogues, plates are set out with silver half-dollars, so that all could purchase them to use in observance of this custom).

Links: Parshat Shekalim; the mystical significance of the half-shekel

Daily Thought
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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