In the section of Shekalim, which is an excerpt from the portion of Ki Tisa, we are told how every Jewish male was required to give a silver half-shekel coin for the communal offerings. In ancient times, there were two currency systems: one holy and one secular. A holy shekel was worth double a secular one.

The currency the Torah refers to here is a holy shekel, which was 20 geira. A half of a holy shekel was worth 10 geira, which is the value of a regular shekel. So, a half holy shekel is the same amount as a regular shekel.1

Why a half-shekel? And if a half holy shekel is a regular shekel, why not simply require a shekel?

This is similar to what the Maggid of Mezrich explains about the trumpets that G‑d commanded Moses to make. He said: “Fashion for yourself two chatzotzrot (‘trumpets’).” The word chatzotzrot could be divided into chatzi tzurot, which means “half forms.” The two chatzotzrot symbolize that Hashem and the Jewish people are, so to speak, two half-forms, which complete each other.2

In the same sense, every Jew is like a half, and we become whole through connecting with other half-shekels—our fellow Jews.

How does this work?

G‑d created us in His image. Kabbalistic teaching explains that just as He has 10 G‑dly attributes, so do we have these 10 attributes. And just as G‑d connects to the world with both masculine and feminine aspects (sometimes called the masculine title of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and sometimes the feminine Shechinah), so are we divided into two genders, each with a unique purpose.

Our great sages tell us that when “10 [Jewish people] eat together, the Shechinah dwells among them.”3 They are not praying or learning; all they are doing is eating, and the Shechinah is with them. Why?

Because we have a neshamah (soul) that is a part of G‑d, we each carry the Shechinah with us. Now, when 10 of us are together, the Shechinah shines, regardless of what we are doing. I can just imagine that adding davening and learning Torah to the gathering can make the Shechinah shine even brighter.

When a Jew connects with G‑d, you have both halves of the form. Each half is a whole on its own—each is 10, a whole shekel—but together, they become a holy shekel.

The same is true for Jewish people. Each of us is perfect on our own, but we are only half of a holy shekel; we need another to be whole. The mitzvah of loving your fellow makes you whole. G‑d likes to be where there is love and unity among friends.

This, of course, is also the case for couples. When you are in a loving relationship, the two halves become one whole. In order for that to happen, you have to see your partner not as a half, but as a whole. And then the two shekels become one holy shekel. When this happens, G‑d wants to take part in your relationship, making it holy. If you bring G‑d in, you take your relationship to a whole new level.

G‑d wants us to connect with Him. But He wants us to love each other first.

May Hashem bless us with good and strong relationships—with our friends, spouses, and ultimately, with Him. Our unity and love will surely bring us to the ultimate and open relationship with G‑d that we yearn for with the coming of Moshiach. The time has come.

Dedicated to my wife, Dina Hurwitz, my other half-shekel, who has been a rock throughout my difficult battle with ALS.