In the Torah portion of Terumah, the Jews are commanded to bring terumah (offerings) for use in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). The command is repeated three times: “They shall take unto Me terumah ;” “you shall take My terumah ;” “This is the terumah that you shall take.”1

Our Sages comment2 that the Torah is referring here to three different types of terumah : the terumah used for constructing bases for the Mishkan’s beams; the terumah of the silver half-shekel for the purchase of communal offerings; and general offerings for the construction of the Mishkan.

Of the above three offerings, only the terumah of the half-shekel was obligatory throughout the time that the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash stood — every Jew was commanded to contribute a half-shekel a year for the purchase of communal offerings.3

In commemoration of the above, we read the Torah portion concerning the half-shekel on the Shabbos that precedes Rosh Chodesh Adar ,4 the time when the announcement was made about the half-shekel while the Beis HaMikdash still existed.5 Additionally, some say that before Purim, a half-coin of the currency of the country should be given in commemoration of the half-shekel that used to be given during the month of Adar.6

The command regarding the offering used for the sockets was germane only prior to the building of the Mishkan , as was the command regarding the general construction offerings, which applied only prior to the construction of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash.7

Torah, however, is eternal,8 and thus applies equally to all times and places; in terms of man’s spiritual service, the terumah of the sockets and the terumah of the general construction offerings must apply nowadays as well.

How so?

There was a fundamental difference between the terumah of the Mishkan ’s sockets and the terumah for the construction of the Mishkan itself: Regarding the former, all Jews gave an equal amount — a half-shekel ; regarding the latter, each Jew gave according to his heart’s desire.9

In terms of our personal spiritual service, the terumah for the sockets represents the self-abnegation and acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke that stem from the essence of every Jew’s soul, and concerning which all Jews are equal.

This also explains why the half-shekel given by every Jew was used only for the sockets, and not for the rest of the Mishkan : The sockets constituted the foundation upon which the entire Mishkan stood.

In spiritual terms, the sockets are congruous with acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke,10 inasmuch as such acceptance serves as the foundation of all spiritual service,11 springing from the soul’s essence, wherein all Jews are equal.12

The terumah for the general construction of the Mishkan , however, reflects intellectual and emotional service, which depend upon each individual’s spiritual status; the spiritual level — “heart’s desire” — of one Jew differs significantly from that of his fellow.13

These two levels are also to be found within our daily spiritual service: Every Jew’s spiritual service begins immediately upon awakening, with Modeh Ani , a prayer recited even before the ritual purification of washing the hands.14 For Modeh Ani is a prayer of thanks and acceptance of the Divine Yoke, and derives from the soul’s essence — a level that touches all Jews equally.15

After all Jews begin their day in a similar manner — the terumah of the sockets — they go on to their individual levels of Divine service — the terumah for the general construction of the Mishkan — as expressed in each Jew’s unique approach to prayer, Torah study and the transformation of the world into a Mishkan for G‑d.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, pp. 109-111