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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Agrippa I, appointed by the Roman Emperor to rule over Judea, was pious and kind to his subjects. During his reign, the Jews began to prosper and live comfortably. The Sages of the time accorded him great respect.

Agrippa I started construction to repair, broaden and heighten the walls around Jerusalem. The Romans, wary of the Jews' rising prosperity, placed many obstacles in his way. Nonetheless, the wall was completed, though the finished product was not as magnificent as originally planned.

The 16th of Adar, the day when the construction commenced, was instituted to be a joyous day.

Daily Thought

When G‑d told Moses that every Jew must give enough to clean up the spiritual damage caused by the golden calf affair, Moses was concerned.

“A person will have to give all he has to clean himself up!” he said.

But G‑d said, “They don’t need to give a hundred silver pieces, not fifty, and not even thirty. They only need to give one half a shekel.”


When you’ve failed and you want to clean up your mess, very often the job seems overwhelming.

In the case of the golden calf, Moses imagined that the smallest amount it would take to pay back the damage done was thirty silver pieces per soul. That was the value of a Hebrew servant. And with the golden calf, the Jewish people had abused their role as servants of G‑d.

But G‑d told Moses, no, it takes just half a shekel. Which is one sixtieth of thirty.

Why one sixtieth? Because that is the tipping point of significance.

When something falls into a quantity sixty times its size, halachah generally considers it insignificant, as though it's not there.

But at one in sixty, there are only 59 parts against it. One sixtieth just barely crosses the threshold of significance.

So that is all you need to do. Not to fix up your whole mess all at once. Just something that’s enough to have some measurable impact, to be of some small consequence, no matter how miniscule.

And then G‑d will provide the means to complete the job.

As the Midrash says, “Open a pathway into your heart as small as the prick of a needle, and I will open it as large as the great doorway of the Temple.”

Mishpatim, 5736.