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Thursday, 24 Nissan 5773 / April 4, 2013

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Shekalim - Chapter One, Shekalim - Chapter Two, Shekalim - Chapter Three

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Shekalim - Chapter One

Halacha 1

It is a positive commandment from the Torah1 that every adult Jewish male2 give a half3-shekel each and every year.4 Even a poor man who derives his livelihood from charity is obligated [to make this donation]. He should borrow from others or sell the clothes5 he is wearing so that he can give a half-shekel of silver, as [Exodus 30:15] states: "The rich shall not give more,6 nor should the poor give less."7

[The half-shekel] should not be given in several partial payments - today a portion, tomorrow a portion. Instead, it is to be given all at once.8

Halacha 2

The sum of money mentioned in the Torah concerning [the fines paid by] a rapist,9 a seducer,10 a slanderer,11 or a slave killed [by an ox]12 is [calculated] in shekalim, a coin [of equal value] whenever mentioned in the Torah. Its weight is 320 barley corns [of pure silver].13

The Sages increased its value and made it equivalent to the coin called a sela, [which was prevalent] during the Second Temple period. How much did a sela weigh? 384 average size barley corns [of pure silver].14

Halacha 3

A sela is four dinarim, a dinar is six ma'ah and a ma'ah was called a gerah in the time of Moses our teacher.15 A ma'ah equals two poondionin, and a poondion is equal to two isarin. A prutah16 is worth an eighth of an [Italian] isar.

Thus, the weight of a ma'ah - and a gerah - is sixteen barley corns [of silver]; the weight of an isar is four barley corns; and the weight of a prutah is half a barley corn.

Halacha 4

[At that time,] there was also another coin that was worth two selaim; it was called a darcon.17

These coins whose weights we have listed and explained are used universally as standard measures. We have described them so that we will not have to describe their weight at all times.

Halacha 5

The mitzvah of giving the half-shekel entails giving half of the coin that is [common] currency at the time in question, even if that coin is larger than the shekel used for the sanctuary. [The converse, however, does not apply.] Never should one give less than the half-shekel18 that was given in the time of Moses our teacher, which weighed 160 barley corns [of silver].

Halacha 6

At the time when the common currency was a darcon, everyone would give a sela as a half-shekel.19 At the time when the common currency was a sela, everyone would give half a sela, the equivalent of two dinarim, as a half-shekel. At the time when the common currency was half a sela, everyone would give that coin, half of a sela, as a half-shekel.20 At no time did the Jews ever give less than the half-shekel mentioned in the Torah for the half-shekel.

Halacha 7

Everyone is obligated to give a half-shekel: priests,21 Levites, Israelites, converts, and freed slaves. Women,22 slaves, and children23 are not obligated. Nevertheless, if they give [a half-shekel], it may be accepted.24 By contrast, if a Samaritan25 gives a half-shekel, it should not be accepted.

A father who began giving a half-shekel on behalf of a child should not stop. Instead, he should [continue to] give a half-shekel on the child's behalf every year until he comes of age and gives [the half-shekel] by himself.26

Halacha 8

[The mitzvah of giving a half-]shekel is observed only during the era that the Temple is standing.27 During the era that the Temple is standing, the [half-]shekel should be given both in Eretz Yisrael and in the diaspora.28 When, however, it is destroyed, even in Eretz Yisrael it is not necessary to give.

Halacha 9

On the first of Adar, the court would announce [the collection of] the [half-]shekalim, so that every single individual would prepare his half-shekel and be ready to give.

On the fifteenth [of Adar],29 the money-changers would sit in every city30 and would gently prod [the people to give]. If people gave them, they would accept it. If someone did not give, they would not compel him to give.

On the twenty-fifth [of Adar], they would sit in the Temple to collect [the half-shekalim]. From this time onward, everyone who had not given [a half-shekel] as yet would be compelled to give.31 When a person did not give [voluntarily], his property would be taken by force as a pledge. Even his clothing was taken from him.

Halacha 10

We do not take property as a pledge by force from those individuals who are not obligated to give a [half-]shekel, even though they are accustomed to giving,32 or they will give in the future.33 Nor do we take the property of priests as a pledge by force, as a reflection of the ways of peace.34 Instead, when they give, we accept their donations. We do, however, [continue to] demand from them until they give.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 171) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 105) count this as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot.

2.

Both concepts are implied by the Hebrew word ish. (See Halachah 7.)

3.

One might ask: why were the Jews not commanded to give a full shekel? There is normally an emphasis that one's offerings be complete and unblemished. Why in this instance were we obligated to give only a half-shekel?

To offer a homiletic resolution to this question: Giving a half-shekel emphasizes that a person is only a half and can never reach fulfillment until he joins together with another individual. Alternatively, it is God who contributes the second half, which enables an individual to reach fulfillment (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. III, Parashat Ki Tissa).

4.

Sefer HaKovetz states that this teaches that one may not give several shekalim in one year to fulfill the mitzvah for many future years.

5.

See Halachah 9. (See also Hilchot Chanukah 4:12, which also mentions that one should sell one's clothes to perform the mitzvah mentioned there.)

6.

The Ramban (in his commentary on the Torah, Exodus 30:15) and others raise the question: why is this not considered one of the 365 negative commandments of the Torah?

In resolution, the commentaries point to the Rambam's introduction to Sefer HaMitzvot (General Principle 8), where the Rambam explains that the use of negative terminology by the Torah - e.g., לא, "Do not..." - does not always imply that the subject should be considered a separate negative commandment. For example, concerning a Hebrew maidservant, Exodus 21:7 states, "She shall not go out [to freedom] as the slaves go out."

The Rambam explains that this is not a negative commandment, but a narrative verse introducing the concept. Similarly, the commentaries explain that the verse under discussion is not a negative commandment, but rather a description of how the half-shekel is given (Nimukei Mahari).

7.

There is also a homiletic dimension to this requirement: The half-shekel relates to a level of soul shared equally by all.

8.

Rav Kapach emphasizes that there are two dimensions implied by this law: a) that the half-shekel should be given on a single day, not in several payments;

b) that a single coin should be given, not several coins equal in value to a half-shekel.

9.

One who rapes a maiden, whom Deuteronomy 22:29 obligates to pay 50 silver pieces.

10.

One who seduces a maiden, whom Exodus 22:16 obligates to pay 50 silver pieces.

11.

One who slanders his wife, claiming that she was not a virgin at the time of marriage. Deuteronomy 22:19 requires such a person to pay 100 silver pieces.

12.

Thirty silver pieces (Exodus 21:32).

13.

See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Bechorot 8:8), where the Rambam describes the traditional measures for this figure in detail. According to the figures he gives, in modern measure, a shekel of the Torah is 16 grams of pure silver.

14.

Today, it is common custom to give 96 grams of silver for the five shekalim required for the pidyon habeyn ceremony. Thus a shekel is 19.2 grams. According to the Piskei Siddur of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi a shekel is 20.4 grams.

15.

Exodus 30:13 describes a shekel as being twenty ma'ah. Thus, in Talmudic times, the Sages increased the shekel's worth by one fifth, making the old value five sixths of the new total.

16.

The coin of minimum value. Less than a prutah's worth is not considered as a significant financial amount.

17.

This is the Talmudic term for the god Neptune. In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Shekalim 2:1, the Rambam mentions darconim of gold, which, though smaller, were equal in value to the silver coins mentioned here.

18.

The Mishnah (Shekalim 2:4) relates that, at one time, the dinar was the common currency in Eretz Yisrael, and the people proposed giving half a dinar instead of a half-shekel. The Sages, however, did not accept this proposal, since it entailed giving less than the half-shekel given at the time of Moses.

19.

This halachah provides examples of the principles mentioned in the previous halachah, quoting from Shekalim, loc. cit. The Mishnah refers to the initial years of the Second Temple period.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's interpretation of that Mishnah and offers another explanation why the people gave a larger coin at that time: Only a small portion of the Jewish people returned to Zion with Ezra. Had the people been required to give only the minimum amount, there would not have been enough funds to purchase communal sacrifices. In his Commentary on the Torah, the Ramban (Exodus 30:12) also follows the Ra'avad's interpretation.

20.

Because it was the equivalent of the half-shekel given in the time of Moses.

21.

The Mishnah (Shekalim 1:4) mentions an opinion that maintains that priests are not obligated to give a half-shekel because they are entitled to partake of certain communal offerings.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 1:3) mentions another rationale why some maintain that priests are not obligated: The Torah (Exodus 30:13) states that the half-shekel should be given by: כל העובר על הפקודים, "all those included in the census." Since the priests were not included in the census, they are not obligated to fulfill this mitzvah.

Significantly, in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim, loc. cit. Avot 4:7), the Rambam appears to accept the view that the priests are not required to give a half-shekel. Similarly, in his Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam cites the above verse as a proof-text explaining why women are not obligated in this mitzvah. Thus, his ruling in this halachah appears to reflect a change of position.

22.

Although giving a half-shekel is a positive mitzvah that is not limited to a specific time, in Sefer HaMitzvot (loc. cit.) the Rambam states that women are explicitly excluded from the obligation to perform this mitzvah, as implied by the verse cited above, "all those included in the census." As mentioned in the previous note, although the Rambam appears to have changed his mind in relation to this phrase, it nevertheless appears that there is a specific exclusion concerning women, for the previous verse states, "A man shall give...." (See the glosses of Rabbenu Asher and Rabbenu Ovadiah of Bertinoro, Shekalim 1:3.)

23.

Although the Torah obligates only those included in the census - and that meant men of the age of twenty and above - for posterity, the mitzvah must be fulfilled by any child who reaches the age of thirteen.

This ruling is not accepted by many authorities. The Sefer HaChinuch (loc. cit.) and Rabbenu Ovadiah of Bertinoro (Shekalim 1:3) maintain that the requirements of the original census were observed for posterity.

24.

Several commentaries have offered explanations why the Temple treasury was allowed to accept the gift of a child, when (as reflected in Hilchot Lulav 8:10) according to Torah law, a child is not able to transfer ownership of his property to others.

[K'tzot HaShulchan (Section 235) uses this law as the basis for a thesis of a larger scope: That once a transaction sanctioned only by Rabbinic law is completed, it is acceptable according to the Torah. For if the child's gift of the half-shekel (a transaction sanctioned by Rabbinic law only) were not acceptable according to the Torah, the money could not be used to purchase sacrifices. Netivot HaMishpat and others do not accept this thesis and offer other explanations why a child's gift is acceptable.]

25.

This restriction would appear to refer to all gentiles. Indeed, Rav Kapach's Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah state גוי, "a gentile," rather than כותי, "a Samaritan."

Without discounting the possibility of a change having been made because of censorship, it would appear that the reference to Samaritans is historical in nature. The reason why donations were not accepted from gentiles is that, as stated in Chapter 4, Halachah 8, funds from these donations were also used to maintain the city of Jerusalem. No monies from gentiles may be used for that purpose, as reflected by Nechemiah 2:20: "You have no portion, or right, or memorial in Jerusalem." And that narrative (ibid. 3:34) relates that the Samaritans were among the foes of Israel at that time. (See also Hilchot Matnot Ani'im 8:8.)

26.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 1:3), the Rambam mentions that by giving a half-shekel once, a father "obligates his son in this mitzvah." Hence, it is inappropriate for him to cease giving on his son's behalf.

27.

It is customary to give a half-shekel to charity on the Fast of Esther in the present age. Nevertheless, this practice is merely a custom and is not considered as fulfillment of the mitzvah of giving a half-shekel.

28.

In explanation, the B'nei Binyamin cites the Mishnah at the conclusion of the first chapter of Kiddushin, which states that the half-shekel is an obligation incumbent on a person's body, like tefillin. Therefore, it must be performed in all places. The Kessef Mishneh draws attention to Shekalim 3:4, which states that the third time during the year that funds were taken from the Temple treasury, they were taken on behalf of the Jews living in the diaspora.

29.

The Mishnah (Shekalim 1:1) and the Rambam (Hilchot Arachin 8:1) mention other communal responsibilities that were also discharged on that day.

30.

Our translation of the Hebrew מדינה is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 1:3). Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro and others differ in the interpretation of the Mishnah and maintain that the money-changers would sit only in Jerusalem.

31.

For the court is obliged to compel the people to perform all the positive commandments.

32.

I.e., women or slaves.

33.

I.e., a minor.

34.

The Tosefot Yom Tov explains that the priests have a reputation for being short-tempered. (See Hoshea 4:4; Shabbat 149b.) If they were compelled to give, strife might arise. The Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 1:3) offers a different explanation. The priests were not compelled to give as a token of respect for their office.

Shekalim - Chapter Two

Halacha 1

How would the moneychangers collect the shekalim? In each and every city, they positioned two chests before them. The bottoms of the chests were wide, and the tops narrow like a shofar,1 so that the money could be deposited in them, but could not be removed from them easily.

Why did they have two chests? One to deposit the [half-]shekalim of the present year, and one to deposit the [half-]shekalim of the previous year,2 for [the collectors] would demand payment from the people who did not give in the previous year.

Halacha 2

In the Temple, there were always thirteen chests, each chest [shaped] like a shofar. The first chest was for the shekalim of the present year; the second for the shekalim of the previous year; the third was for all those who where obligated to bring an offering of two turtle doves or two common doves,3 one as a burnt offering and one as a sin offering. The funds [for these offerings] were deposited in this chest.

The fourth was for those who were obligated to bring [doves] as a burnt offering only. They would deposit the funds [for these offerings] in this chest. The fifth was for those who volunteered to buy wood for the altar; the sixth, for those who donated money [to purchase] frankincense;4 the seventh, for those who donated gold for the covering [of the ark].5

The eighth6 was for the [money that] remains after [purchasing] a sin-offering - i.e., a person set aside funds [to use to purchase] a sin-offering, and money remained after purchasing it. Those funds were deposited in this [chest].

The ninth was for the [money that] remains after [purchasing] a guilt-offering; the tenth, for the [money that] remains after [purchasing] the pairs [of doves necessary] for [the offerings of] zavim, zavot,7 and women after childbirth; the eleventh, for the [money that] remains after [purchasing] the offerings of a nazirite; the twelfth, for the [money that] remains after [purchasing] the guilt offering of a leper; the thirteenth, for a person who pledged money for an animal [to be brought] as a burnt offering.8

Halacha 3

The [purpose] for each category for which the funds in the chest were used was written on the outside of the chest. The court stipulated that all the monies that remained after the purchase of sacrifices for which they were designated should be used to offer animals as burnt offerings.9

It thus follows that all the funds in the latter six chests were used [to purchase] animals for burnt offerings. Their hides belonged to the priests, as did the hides [of other burnt offerings].10 All the funds in the third chest were to be used to purchase doves: half of them burnt offerings, and half of them sin offerings. All [the funds in] the fourth [chest] were to be used to purchase doves to be sacrificed as burnt offerings.

Halacha 4

When the shekalim were collected from each and every city, they were sent to the Temple with emissaries.11 They might be exchanged for golden dinarim, so that [they would not become a] burden on the journey.12 [All the funds] were amassed in the Temple.

They were placed in one of the chambers of the Temple. All the doors to the chamber were closed [under lock and] key, and then they were covered with seals. All the shekalim that were collected there [were stored] in three large baskets. Each of the baskets was large enough to contain nine seah.13 The remainder [of the money] was left in the chamber.

The money in the baskets was referred to as terumat halishcah ("[the funds of] the chamber that were set aside").14 [The funds that] remained besides [the funds] stored in the baskets were referred to as sheyarei halishcah ("the remainder within the chamber").15

Halacha 5

On three occasions during the year16 funds were taken from this chamber: On Rosh Chodesh Nisan, on either the day before or the day after the festival of Rosh Chodesh Tishrei17, and fifteen days before Shavuot.18

How is the money set aside? One person enters the chamber, while the guards stand outside. He asks them: "Should I set aside the funds?" They answer him: "Set them aside; set them aside; set them aside," [repeating the answer] three times.19

The person then filled three smaller baskets, each containing three seah, from [the funds in] the three large baskets. He then took the money outside to use it until it was depleted. Afterwards, he returned and refilled the three small baskets from the three large baskets a second time before Shavuot. The money was then used until it was depleted.

Halacha 6

In Tishrei, he returned a third time, filled [the three small baskets] from the three large baskets, and used the funds until they were exhausted [or] until Rosh Chodesh Nisan.20 On Rosh Chodesh Nisan, [funds] were set aside from the new collection.21

If the funds in the three large containers were insufficient and were exhausted before the month of Nisan, they would set aside other funds from the remainder within the chamber.22

Halacha 7

The three smaller baskets into which the funds were set aside and taken outside were labeled alef, bet, gimmel.23 [In this manner,] he would know to take [the funds] from the first until they were exhausted, and then to take from the second, and then to take from the third.

He should fill the first basket from the first large basket, and then cover the large basket with a handkerchief. Afterwards, he should fill the second basket from the second large basket and then cover the large basket with a handkerchief, and then the third basket from the third large basket.

He does not cover this large basket with a handkerchief, thus making it apparent that he concluded with it. And he would begin with it when he entered a second time before Shavuot. At that time, he would first set aside [the funds] from the large basket that was uncovered, and then he covered it. He then set aside from the large basket from which he had taken [the funds] first on the previous occasion, and covered it. He would then take funds from the large basket that is next to it.

He would not cover this basket, so that [he would know] to start from it in Tishrei, the third time he entered.24 Thus, he would have placed [funds] into the first, second, and third of the small baskets from each of the large baskets.

Halacha 8

When he placed the funds in these three [small] baskets, he placed the funds in the first basket on behalf of [the inhabitants of] Eretz Yisrael; in the second basket, on behalf of [the inhabitants of] the walled cities surrounding Eretz Yisrael,25and on behalf of [the inhabitants of] the totality of Eretz Yisrael; and in the third basket, on behalf of [the inhabitants of] Babylonia, on behalf of [the inhabitants of] Media, on behalf of [the inhabitants of] other distant countries, and on behalf of the remainder of the Jewish people.26

Halacha 9

When he set aside the funds, he had the intention of including [all those whose shekalim] had been collected and were present in the chamber, [all those whose shekalim] had been collected and had not reached the chamber, and [all those whose shekalim] would be collected in the future.27

[In this manner,] the shekalim that he set aside to use [to purchase the sacrifices] would serve as atonement for the entire Jewish people. It is as if their shekalim had already reached the chamber, and were included in the money that was set aside.

Halacha 10

When the person entered to set aside the funds, he should not enter wearing a garment in which he could hide money, nor wearing shoes or sandals,28 nor wearing tefillin or an amulet, lest the people suspect that he hid funds from the chamber underneath them when he set aside the funds. And they would talk to him [continuously] from the time he entered until the time he departed, so that he could not place [a coin] in his mouth.

Even though all these safeguards were taken, a poor person or someone who craved money should not [be appointed to] set aside these funds.29 [In this way,] the matter will not arouse suspicion, thus [fulfilling the advice of Numbers 32:22]: "You shall be blameless before God and before Israel."

FOOTNOTES
1.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 6:1), the Rambam refers to the Jerusalem Talmud, which explains that the chests had curved necks to prevent people from removing the coins from them.

2.

There is a reference in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 2:1) that differs and maintains that in the outlying cities collections would be made only for the present year. It was in Jerusalem alone that they would collect for the previous year.

The Or Sameach explains that this reference follows a minority opinion, while the Rambam's decision is accepted as halachah. Other authorities maintain that there were variant versions of the passage in the Jerusalem Talmud.

3.

These offerings were brought by zavim, zavot, and women after childbirth. Since the money was placed in the chest without distinction, half was used to purchase doves for burnt offerings, and half for sin-offerings.

4.

This was used for the meal offerings as well as the incense offerings.

5.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 6:5), the Rambam states that these funds were to repair the Holy of Holies. Rav Kapach notes that, on occasion, the Holy of Holies is referred to as "the chamber of the kaporet." This appears to be the Rambam's intent. Rabbenu Ovadiah of Bertinoro, by contrast, interprets this term as referring to the Temple vessels made from gold.

6.

Concerning the purpose of the latter six chests, the Mishnah (loc. cit.) states "six were for voluntary donations." The Tosefta and the Jerusalem Talmud each offer a different interpretation of the purposes for which these six chests were used. The Rambam chooses the interpretation of the Tosefta.

7.

Zavot is a venereal condition resembling gonorrhea that renders men (zavim) ritually impure. For women (zavot), the term refers to a woman who experiences vaginal bleeding at times other than those of her menstrual period. She also becomes impure.

8.

The commentaries note that by choosing this interpretation, the Rambam defines a purpose for this chest that is different in nature from that of the previous five. Since these six chests were mentioned in one group by the Mishnah, this represents somewhat of a difficulty.

9.

Had the court not made such a stipulation, it would not have been permissible to change the purpose of these funds from the intent for which they were originally donated. (See also Chapter 4, Halachah 9.)

10.

Shekalim 6:6 relates that from Leviticus 5:19, "a guilt offering unto God," one might think that the offering should be consecrated entirely. Since II Kings 12:17 states, "The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings shall... be for the priests," the following resolution was offered. The remaining funds were used to purchase burnt offerings that were dedicated entirely to God; the priests did not partake of them at all. The hides, however, were given to the priests.

11.

More particulars concerning these emissaries are discussed in Chapter 3, Halachot 8-9.

12.

I.e., a golden coin is far lighter than several silver coins of equivalent value.

13.

Thus, the basket would contain 74.6 cubic liters according to Shiurei Torah and 130 cubic liters according to Chazon Ish.

14.

These funds were used to purchase the communal sacrifices and for other purposes, as related in Chapter 4, Halachot 1-7.

15.

These funds were used for various communal projects, as mentioned in Chapter 4, Halachah 8. There is a substantial difference in status between these two groups of funds. The funds in the three baskets were considered sanctified, and a person who used them for mundane purposes would be liable for the misuse of a sacred article (me'ilah). The other funds, by contrast, were used for mundane purposes, albeit those of the community, and not those of an individual. (See Hilchot Me'ilah 6:13.)

16.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 3:1), the Rambam explains that the funds were set aside on these three occasions so that the matter would be publicized.

17.

Although the wording of the Mishnah (Shekalim 3:1) implies that the money was set aside on Rosh HaShanah, since Rosh HaShanah is a holiday, the money was set aside either beforehand or afterwards.

18.

Note also the parallel to (and slight difference from) Hilchot Bechorot 7:8, which describes the setting aside of the tithes of the herds on three occasions during the year.

19.

Responses were frequently repeated in the Temple service for the purpose of emphasis. (See Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 7:11 and Hilchot Parah Adumah 3:2.)

20.

There is an apparent difficulty with the Rambam's wording here, which appears to imply that the measures of funds set aside on each occasion were equal. This is inaccurate, for there are far more days between the middle of Iyar - the time of the second separation - and Tishrei - the time of the third - than between Tishrei and Nisan - the time of the first separation. And both of these periods are far greater than the period from Rosh Chodesh Nisan until the middle of Iyar. In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 3:1), the Rambam resolves this difficulty, explaining that on each occasion they would set aside an amount of money appropriate for the period, implying that the amounts were not equal.

21.

Rosh HaShanah 7b emphasizes that Rosh Chodesh Nisan was considered to be Rosh HaShanah concerning the Temple sacrifices, and from that time onward the funds to purchase the sacrifices were taken from the new collection.

22.

I.e., the funds that were not within the three large baskets and were ordinarily used for other communal purposes.

In explanation of this halachah, the Kessef Mishneh points to a difference of opinion in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 3:3) between Rabbi Meir and the Sages. The Sages maintain that if the funds were exhausted, a new collection should be made. Rabbi Meir, by contrast, maintains that the funds should be taken from those remaining in the chamber.

There is, however, a difficulty with the reference to this source, because Rabbi Meir maintains that the funds remaining in the chamber were consecrated, and therefore one who uses them for his individual purposes transgresses the prohibition against me'ilah. As mentioned above, the Rambam (Hilchot Me'ilah 6:13) does not accept that ruling.

23.

The first three letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew letters also serve as numerals. In this instance, it is as though the baskets were labeled 1, 2, and 3.

24.

The Rambam's ruling is dependent on his interpretation of the Mishnah (Shekalim 3:4). (See his Commentary on the Mishnah.) The Ra'avad, Rabbenu Asher, and others offer a different interpretation, which appears to fit more closely the plain meaning of the Jerusalem Talmud's explanation of the Mishnah.

25.

Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro (Shekalim 3:4) gives as examples, the inhabitants of the lands of Ammon and Moab.

26.

Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro (who interprets the abovementioned Mishnah differently from the Rambam) explains that the reason for the mention of these three locales is chronological. First, the shekalim would be collected from Eretz Yisrael, then from the surrounding areas, and lastly from the outlying diaspora. Nevertheless, whenever they set aside the money for the communal sacrifices, they had the intent that the money was to be given for the entire Jewish people.

It is unlikely that the Rambam would follow this view. It appears that he considers these divisions as merely geographic indicators.

27.

I.e., even if for some reason a person had not given his half-shekel as yet, retroactively he received a share in these sacrifices. In this manner, everyone who ultimately contributes toward the sacrifices will have a portion in all the communal sacrifices, even those offered before his contribution was made.

Ketubot 108a, cited by many as the source for this halachah, also mentions that the person setting aside the funds had in mind those people whose half-shekalim were lost and never reached the Temple treasury. Nevertheless, since the lost shekalim were not mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 2:1), nor in the Tosefta (Shekalim 2:5), the Rambam also omits mention of them. (See also Chapter 3, Halachot 8-9.)

28.

See Yevamot 102b, which mentions in this context that it is forbidden to enter the Temple courtyard wearing shoes or sandals. The Rambam quotes this law in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 7:2.

29.

The source for this law is the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 3:2), which states "A קווץ should not set aside funds." The Rambam interprets this term as referring to either a poor or a greedy individual. The Ra'avad maintains that the term refers to a person with long hair, lest he be suspected of hiding a coin among his locks.

Shekalim - Chapter Three

Halacha 1

Coins of a half-shekel were required by everyone so that each individual could give the half-shekel he was obligated to give. Therefore, when a person went to a money-changer to exchange a shekel for two half-shekalim, he would give the money changer an extra amount in addition to the shekel.1 This extra amount is referred to as a kolbon. Therefore, when two individuals give a shekel [to discharge the obligation incumbent] upon both of them, they are obligated to give a kolbon.2

Halacha 2

Any [two individuals] who are not obligated to give shekalim - e.g., two women or two slaves - and who gave a shekel are not obligated to give a kolbon.3 Similarly, if one person was obligated and another was not obligated, and the one who was obligated gave [a half-shekel] on behalf of the one who was not obligated - e.g., a man gave a [full] shekel on his own behalf, and on behalf of a woman, or on behalf of a slave - he is not obligated to give a kolbon.

Priests are also not obligated to give a kolbon,4 nor is a person who gives on behalf of a priest.

Halacha 3

A person who gives a shekel on behalf of himself and a poor person, or his neighbor, or an inhabitant of his city, is not obligated to give a kolbon, if he gave [the half-shekel on behalf of his colleague] as a gift.5 [The rationale is] that he gave an [extra] half-shekel to increase the number of shekalim. If, however, he gave the half-shekel on behalf of his colleagues as a loan to be repaid when they have the means, he is obligated to give a kolbon.

Halacha 4

Brothers who have not divided the estate left to them by their father - and similarly, partners6 who give one shekel on behalf of the two individuals - are not obligated to give a kolbon.7

When does the above apply? When the partners have conducted business with the funds of the partnership, and [the initial funds are no longer present]. If, however, one individual brought funds and the other brought funds and they joined them together, but did not exchange or spend the funds, they are obligated to give a kolbon.8

If they conducted business with the funds of the partnership, afterwards divided the assets, and then entered into a new partnership, they are obligated to give a kolbon until they conduct business under the new partnership agreement, and exchange the money [in the partnership's account].

Halacha 5

When [by contrast] brothers or partners jointly own an animal and funds, and then they subsequently divide the funds, they are obligated to give a kolbon although they have not divided the animal.9 Conversely, however, if they divided the animal, but did not divide the funds, they are not obligated to give a kolbon until they divide the funds. We do not say that the funds are about to be divided.10

Halacha 6

When a person gives a shekel to the Temple treasury so that it will be considered as if he gave the half-shekel he is obligated to give, and so that he should receive a half-shekel that was collected from others, he is obligated [to give] two kolbonot.11 In contrast, if his shekel were given entirely to [the Temple treasury], he would be obligated to give one kolbon [only].12

Halacha 7

What is the value of a kolbon? When two dinarim were given as a half-shekel, the value of a kolbon was half a ma'ah - i.e., one twelfth of a dinar. A kolbon of a lesser value was never given.13

The kolbonot do not have the same status as the shekalim. The money-changers would gather them in a separate collection until they were required by the Temple treasury.14

Halacha 8

A person whose shekel is lost is responsible for it until it is given to the Temple treasury.15

[The following rules apply when] the inhabitants of a city send their shekalim by means of an emissary and they are stolen or lost: If [the emissary] was an unpaid watchman, he should take an oath to them,16 and then he is freed of liability, as is any other unpaid watchman. [The people] then must give their half-shekalim a second time.17

If the inhabitants of the city say, "Since we are giving our shekalim a second time [regardless], we do not desire for the emissary to be required to take an oath, for he is trusted by us," their request is denied. It is an edict of the Sages that [nothing] consecrated should be released without an oath having been taken.18

If the first19 shekalim were discovered after the emissary took the oath, both sets of shekalim are consecrated, but [the later shekalim] are not considered [as payment] for the following year. The first [shekalim] should be included among the shekalim of the present year, and the later [shekalim] should be included together with [the collection of shekalim] from the previous year.20

Halacha 9

[The following rules apply when] they sent their shekalim with a paid watchman, who is liable in the event of theft and loss, and [the shekalim] were lost because of forces beyond their control - e.g., they were taken by armed thieves. [The emissary] is not held liable.21

[Whether or not the inhabitants of the city are required to pay a second time depends on whether or not the funds in the Temple treasury have been set aside22.] If [the inhabitants' funds] were lost because of forces beyond [the emissary's] control after the funds [in the Temple treasury] were set aside, the emissary is required to take an oath23 to the Temple treasurer,24 and the inhabitants of the city are no longer liable. For the person who set aside the funds in the Temple treasury, did so on behalf of [those whose funds] have been collected, and on behalf of [those whose funds] have not yet been collected. Thus, the funds were already in the custody of the Temple treasury.25

The inhabitants of the city [are freed of liability], because there was nothing more that they could have done. They gave [the funds] to a paid watchman, who is liable in the event of theft and loss, and [the loss of property] due to forces beyond a person's control is an uncommon phenomenon.

If [the inhabitants' funds] were lost before the funds [in the Temple treasury] were set aside, they are considered as still being in the possession of the inhabitants of the city. The emissary is required to take an oath to the inhabitants of the city, and they are required to pay [their half-shekalim a second time].

If [the emissary] took [the required] oath, and they collected shekalim a second time, and then the thieves returned [the stolen funds], both sets of shekalim are consecrated, but [the later shekalim] are not considered [as payment] for the following year. Instead, [the later shekalim] should be included together with [the collection of shekalim] from the previous year.

There is an opinion26 that states that the first shekalim, which will be included among the shekalim of the present year, are the shekalim that were originally stolen, lost, or taken by forces beyond the emissary's control and returned. Another opinion states that the first shekalim are the shekalim that come to the hands of the Temple treasurer first.

Halacha 10

[The following rules apply when] a person gives a half-shekel to a colleague to give to the money-changer on behalf of the donor, and instead the agent gives it to him on his own behalf, so that he will not be compelled [to give his own half-shekel at this time]: If the funds [in the Temple treasury] were already set aside,27 the agent is considered to have misappropriated consecrated property.28 For the [half-]shekel was already considered to be the property of the Temple treasury, since [the funds] were set aside on behalf of all those who would give in the future. Thus, [the agent] extricated himself29 [by using] consecrated funds and hence derived benefit from this [half-]shekel.

If the funds [in the Temple treasury] have not yet been set aside, the agent is not considered to have misappropriated consecrated property. He is, however, obligated to return the half-shekel to the colleague who gave it to him. Similarly, a person who robs [one of the money-changers of the Temple treasury] of a half-shekel, or steals30 it from him, and uses it for his half-shekel, is considered to have fulfilled his obligation [to give a half-shekel]. He must [reimburse] the [money-changer], [and] pay twice its value31 or add a fifth of its value32 [depending on the situation].

Halacha 11

[The following rules apply when] a person give his half-shekel from consecrated funds:33 After the funds from the Temple treasury are set aside, when the funds [from the Temple treasury] are used [to purchase a sacrifice], the person becomes obligated for the misappropriation of consecrated property.34 He has, however, fulfilled his obligation to give a half-shekel.

Should one give [a half-shekel] from funds that were designated as the second tithe,35 he should partake of a quantity of food that is of equivalent value in Jerusalem.36 Should one give [a half-shekel] from funds that were given in exchange for the produce of the Sabbatical year,37 he should partake of a quantity of food that is of equivalent value, and treat it with the sanctity of the produce of the Sabbatical year.38 Should one give [a half-shekel] from an apostate city,39 his act is of no consequence whatsoever.40

Halacha 12

When a person has set aside a [half-]shekel under the impression that he was obligated to give it, and then discovers that he was not obligated, his [half-]shekel is not consecrated.41

When a person gave two [half-]shekalim, and later discovered that he was obligated to give only one, [the following rules apply:] If he gave them one after another, the second [half-]shekel is not consecrated.42 If he gave them both at one time, one is a [half-]shekel, and one is considered as overpayment for a [half-]shekel.43 If a person set aside a [half-]shekel and died, the [half-shekel] should be designated as funds donated [for the purpose of purchasing burnt offerings].44

Halacha 13

[The following rules apply when a person] takes coins in his hands and says, "These are for my [half-]shekel,"45 or when he collects ma'ah46 after ma'ah or prutah47 after prutah, and says, "I am collecting money for my [half-]shekel": Even if he collects an entire purse-full, [all that he is required] to give is the half-shekel that he is obligated to give, and the rest of the funds remain unconsecrated. For [any] overpayment given for the [half-]shekel remains unconsecrated.

Halacha 14

[The following rules apply when] money is discovered [in the collection area in the Temple] between the chest of the [half-]shekalim and the chest designated for donations [for burnt offerings]:48 [If the funds are] closer to [the chest of] the shekalim, they should be considered as shekalim. If they are closer to [the chest designated for] donations [for burnt offerings], they should be used for that purpose.49 If the funds are equidistant between the two chests, they are designated as donations for burnt offerings. [The rationale is that] these donations [involve a more severe type of offering,50 for they] are used entirely for burnt offerings. The shekalim, by contrast, are used for burnt offerings and for other purposes.51

Halacha 15

Similarly, all the funds that are found between chests should be designated for the purpose of the chest to which they are closest. If [funds] are [discovered] equidistant between chests - for example, if they are between the chest [whose contents are used to purchase] wood and the chest [whose contents are used to purchase] frankincense - they should be designated [for purchasing] frankincense.52 [If they are discovered] between the chest [whose contents are used to purchase] pairs of doves53 and the chest [whose contents are used to purchase] doves for burnt offerings, they should be designated [for purchasing] doves for burnt offerings.54

This is the general principle: In all cases, we designate [the funds for the purposes of the chest] to which they are closest;55if [the funds] are equidistant [from two chests], [we designate them] for the purposes that are governed by] more stringent requirements.

All the coins found on the Temple Mount are [considered] unconsecrated funds,56 because the Temple treasurer does not take money out of the Temple treasury until he transfers their consecrated dimension to the animals that he purchases for sacrifices.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Rashi (Chulin 25b) explains that this additional amount was given to tip the scales in favor of the money changer. The Meiri explains that since half-shekel coins were in demand, the value of two such coins was slightly more than a shekel. Rav Kapach [based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 1:6)] explains that this additional amount was a fee paid to the Temple treasury for providing the services of a money-changer. Based on the latter two explanations, if a person gives a half-shekel coin, he is not obligated to add a kolbon.

2.

A single kolbon. (See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah [loc. cit.].)

3.

Since their gift is voluntary in nature, they are not obligated to add more to it.

4.

Since priests are not compelled to give a half-shekel for the reasons mentioned above (see the notes on Chapter 1, Halachah 10), they are also not obligated to give a kolbon (Kessef Mishneh).

5.

Although these individuals are obligated to give a half-shekel, since they did not give on their own behalf, the individual who gave on their behalf is doing a service for the Temple treasury. Hence, he is freed of the obligation of the kolbon.

6.

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, because of a disagreement regarding the version of the text in the Mishnah (Shekalim 1:7), which serves as the Rambam's source. The Rambam's version of the text appears to have read האחים והשותפים, "The brothers and the partners." The Ra'avad's version of the text read האחים השותפים, "The brothers who are partners." According to the Ra'avad, ordinary partners are obligated to give a kolbon.

7.

Since their business interests are combined, they are considered as a single individual. In the above-mentioned Mishnah, and in Bechorot 9:3 and other sources, our Sages contrast the obligation to give a kolbon with the obligation to tithe one's herds. Whenever these individuals are not obligated to give a kolbon, their herds are considered as a single entity, and they are obligated to tithe them together. Whenever they are obligated to give a kolbon, their herds are not considered as a single entity, and they are not obligated to tithe them together.

8.

Although joining the funds together establishes a partnership (Hilchot Shluchin V'Shutafin 4:1), as long as the initial funds are still in the hands of the partnership, there is still an individual dimension to each person's investment (loc. cit.:3). When the initial funds have been spent and the partnership begins generating its own income, then the two people are considered to have a joint income.

9.

The intent appears to be that since the brothers or the partners divided the funds available to them, it is clear that they no longer desire to conduct business as a single entity. We assume that the reason they did not divide the animal was merely one of convenience, and ultimately the partnership will be divided entirely.

The Ra'avad quotes the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 1:7), which states that this applies only when the livestock do not comprise the majority of the assets of the estate or the partnership. If they did comprise the majority of the assets, a different ruling would apply. The Kessef Mishneh and the Migdal Oz offer different explanations for the Rambam's position.

10.

Although there is no difficulty in dividing funds, the very fact that the funds have not been divided is an indication that the brothers and the partners still intend to do business as a single enterprise.

11.

He is requiring that two different exchanges be made on his behalf: a) the division of his shekel so that he will have fulfilled his obligation of giving a half-shekel; and

b) that he receive a half-shekel in return.

He is obligated to pay a kolbon for each of these transactions (Rav Kapach, based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Shekalim 1:6).

12.

As stated in Halachah 3.

13.

For as explained in Chapter 1, Halachot 5-6, this was the value of the half-shekel given in the desert. A lesser amount was never given.

14.

The Tosefta and the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 1:4) quote different Sages who offer varying opinions regarding the purpose for which the kolbonot were used. The Kessef Mishneh maintains that the Rambam used an indefinite choice of words because no final decision is reached in these texts.

15.

Even if the initial setting aside of funds had already been performed in the Temple, the half-shekalim given afterwards are required actually to reach the Temple treasurers.

16.

The emissaries must take three oaths: that the funds were lost or stolen, that they did not use them for their own purposes prior to their being lost, and that they were not negligent (Hilchot She'ilah UFikadon 4:1).

17.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 2:1), the Rambam emphasizes that the people are required to pay a second time because entrusting the funds to an unpaid watchman is considered a careless and irresponsible approach.

Note the contrast to the laws regarding a paid watchman in the following halachah, which differentiates between whether or not the loss took place before funds were set aside from the Temple treasury.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that it is possible to interpret Bava Metzia 58a as implying that the inhabitants should be freed of the obligation of paying a second time if the money was lost after the funds were set aside in the Temple treasury. The Rambam, however, does not choose this interpretation, for the reasons mentioned above.

18.

According to the Torah itself, an oath is never required concerning consecrated articles. Bava Metzia (loc. cit.) explains, however, that our Sages instituted this oath so that the people would not treat consecrated articles in a disrespectful manner.

19.

We have translated the terms "first" and "later" without adding any clarification at this point, because, as mentioned in the conclusion of the following halachah, there is a difference of opinion regarding their meaning.

20.

As mentioned in Chapter 2, Halachot 1-2, every year, it was possible for a person to give a half-shekel to compensate for his failure to do so in the previous year. The extra shekalim were added to this collection.

21.

A paid emissary is never liable for losses due to forces beyond his control, as explained in Hilchot Sechirut, Chapter 3.

22.

As described in Chapter 2, Halachot 4 and 9.

23.

This oath, like the one mentioned in the previous halachah, and like the one mentioned in the following clause, is Rabbinic in origin.

24.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that the Rambam is quoting the text of the Mishnah (Shekalim 2:1) despite the fact that the meaning of that phrase is changed by an interpretation offered in the preliminary discussion of the issue in Bava Metzia 58a: that the emissary takes the oath to the inhabitants of the city in the presence of the Temple treasurer in order to collect his wage, or in order to clear their reputation.

The Kessef Mishneh maintains, however, that once the Talmud mentions the reason for the oath stated in the previous halachah, "that [nothing] consecrated should be released without an oath having been taken," this interpretation is no longer necessary.

25.

As explained in Chapter 2, Halachah 9, when the person setting aside the funds in the Temple treasury makes the separation, he has the intention that the money set aside should be used to purchase sacrifices on behalf of all the Jews who donated or who will donate money for that purpose. Therefore, after the inhabitants of the city fulfill their obligation by sending the funds with a paid watchman, it is considered as if the funds were already given to the Temple treasury.

26.

The source for the difference of opinion mentioned by the Rambam is the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 2:1).

27.

This ruling is also based on the principles mentioned in the previous halachah: that the person who set aside the funds has in mind all the funds that will be donated in the future. Accordingly, once the person gives his half-shekel to his colleague, it becomes the property of the Temple treasury.

28.

If his act was intentional, he receives lashes as punishment and must reimburse the Temple treasury. If his transgression was unintentional, he is obligated to bring a sacrifice for atonement and to reimburse the Temple treasury, adding a fifth of the shekel's value. (See Hilchot Me'ilah 1:3.)

29.

A person is liable for misappropriating consecrated property when benefit is derived from it. In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 2:2), the Rambam emphasizes that the benefit the person derives is that he extricates himself from a situation where his property would be taken to compel him to pay the half-shekel. The actual fulfillment of the mitzvah is not taken into account, because "the mitzvot were not given for our personal satisfaction."

30.

In halachic terminology, robbery refers to the seizure of a person's property by force, while stealing refers to the theft of an object without his knowledge.

31.

This ruling applies to a thief, but not to a robber. If, at the time of the theft the funds had not been set aside in the Temple treasury, the half-shekel the person steals has not been consecrated. Hence, the thief is required to make double restitution, as stated in Exodus 22:3.

32.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that this refers to a person who steals from a money-changer after the funds have been set aside in the Temple treasury. He is thus making personal use of consecrated property and must add a fifth of its value when making restitution, as explained above.

The Or Sameach differs and states that this refers also to a person who steals before the funds have been set aside in the Temple treasury. A person who is charged with theft, clears himself by taking an oath in court, and later admits the theft, is required to add a fifth of its value when making restitution, as explained in Hilchot Gezeilah 7:1.

33.

I.e., money that was designated for the improvement of the Temple complex. The Rambam is speaking about an instance where the person is unaware that the funds that he used had been consecrated. If he had been aware, different rules would apply.

34.

For a portion of his half-shekel is considered to have been used towards this purchase. The commentaries question why the Rambam does not mention the need for an animal to be purchased with the funds from the Temple treasury in the previous halachah as well. (See Or Sameach.)

35.

I.e., money used to redeem the second tithe, which must be used to purchase food that will be eaten in Jerusalem. (See Deuteronomy 14:24-26.)

36.

I.e., after the fact, it is as if he transferred the designated nature of the half-shekel to the funds he later used.

37.

When produce that grew in the Sabbatical year is purchased, the seller may use the funds he receives for only one purpose: to purchase produce (that was not grown in the Sabbatical year). Moreover, the produce he purchases must be eaten according to all the laws that pertain to produce of the Sabbatical year. (See Hilchot Shemitah V'Yovel 6:6-10.)

38.

In this instance, as well, after the fact it is as if he transferred the designated nature of the half-shekel to the funds he later used.

39.

Which must be destroyed entirely, together with all the property contained within it. (See Deuteronomy 13:17.)

40.

For the property from such a city is considered as having no value whatsoever. It is as if he gave ashes. The Kessef Mishneh questions the Rambam's statements, noting that this concept is so well known that it would seem unnecessary for the Rambam to mention it.

Several of the later commentaries offer possible resolutions to this difficulty. For example, the Merkevet HaMishneh states that this refers to money from the second tithe found in an apostate city. (See Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 4:15.) Aruch HaShulchan states that this refers to money set aside for the half-shekel, but not given to the money-changers for that purpose. If it has already been given, it should be brought to the Temple treasury.

41.

This follows a general principle that when a person consecrates property because of a misconception, the property is not consecrated.

42.

For this is identical to the situation described in the first clause.

43.

Which, as stated in the following halachah, remains unconsecrated.

44.

The Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 105) explains the reason for this law. Exodus 30:15 states that the half-shekalim are given for the purpose of atonement, and the dead are not in need of atonement.

45.

The decision rendered in this clause represents a reversal of the Rambam's opinion from that of his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shekalim 2:3), where he writes that if a person brings money and says that it is for his half-shekel, the remainder is considered a donation and is used to purchase burnt offerings. This change of view is based on the discussion of the subject in the Jerusalem Talmud.

46.

A ma'ah was worth one sixth of a half-shekel in Talmudic times (Chapter 1, Halachah 6).

47.

A coin of little value.

48.

Kin'at Eliyahu notes that there is a slight difficulty with the Rambam's statements, which are based on those of the Mishnah (Shekalim 7:1). According to the description of the order of the chests in Chapter 2, Halachah 2, there are several other chests between the chests of the half-shekalim and the chests for the donations for burnt offerings.

49.

Actual closeness is considered the determinant of primary importance in this and other halachic questions.

50.

And this becomes the determining factor, as stated in the following halachah.

51.

As explained in the following chapter.

52.

For the frankincense was itself considered a sacrifice, in contrast to the wood, which was considered merely a medium to make possible a sacrifice (Kessef Mishneh).

53.

Which were sacrificed, one as a burnt offering and one as a sin offering.

54.

For the pairs of doves are offered, one as a sin offering and one as a burnt offering. Since the priests also partook of the sin offerings, the burnt offerings are considered more stringent.

The Kessef Mishneh cites the commentary of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bertinoro on Shekalim 7:1, where he states that a pair of doves were also donated from communal funds to be sacrificed, one as a burnt offering and one as a sin offering. In this manner, if the funds came from those donated for this purpose, the person would receive atonement.

55.

Regardless of whether the contents of the chest are used for purposes that are governed by more lenient or more stringent requirements.

56.

As indicated by Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 7:2, a person was not allowed to enter the Temple Mount holding money in a visible manner. Thus, we can assume that most of the money lost there came from the Temple treasury, and that as the Rambam continues to explain, that money had already been redeemed through the purchase of the sacrifices.

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