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Full Faith

Faigy Peritzman

With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


veryone who goes through the counting, from the age of 20 and upward, shall give an offering to Hashem. The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less, than half a shekel…” (Shemos 30:14-15)


Rashi in Megillah (20b) explains that the donations for the adanim [sockets for the pillars] and for the communal korbanos were equal — a half a shekel per person, rich and poor alike. The rest of the donations for the Mishkan were given each man according to his wishes.

What was special about the adanim that required one set donation for everyone? And why was that donation a half a shekel and not a whole one? (Rav Yosef Tzvi Salant, Be’er Yosef)

Chana’s voice was strained over the phone. “I lost it,” she said.

“As in, losing it, having a meltdown?”

One of Chana’s children had surgery a few months back, and I know Chana’s been under tremendous stress because of it.

“No.” Chana gave half a laugh. “Not that kind of losing it. I lost… my calm… the feeling of trust I had when Kivi had surgery.”

I stopped washing dishes and sat down to listen closer to Chana. This conversation was too important to multitask.

Chazal tell us that the building of the Mishkan parallels the construction of our own lives and Torah observance. Rabbeinu Bechaye points out that there were 248 actions needed to complete the Mishkan, which correspond to the 248 positive commandments in the Torah and the 248 limbs a person has been given to utilize for spiritual purposes.

The adanim were parallel to the mitzvah of emunah, faith in Hashem. Just as the adanim supported the pillars that held up the Mishkan, so too our emunah supports us in our lives.

There are many instances where a person’s requirements and level of service of Hashem differ from those of his friend’s. But when it comes to the mitzvah of emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same. Every member of Klal Yisrael, without exception, must believe the Torah is true. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (99a) states that if a person believes that the whole Torah is from Heaven except for one detail, then he’s a complete heretic. That’s why every person was commanded to bring the same donation to build the adanim — because they were each equally obligated in the mitzvah of emunah they represented.

“All the months leading up to the surgery, I tried so hard not to worry. But the tension was always there, niggling and nibbling away at my brain. The morning of the surgery, I was so tense I thought I’d self-destruct.

“Then in middle of the surgery, something went wrong. People started bustling in and out, carrying all sorts of medical paraphernalia and avoiding my questions. Then I heard Kivi cry. He was supposed to be under anesthesia! I broke. I felt like I couldn’t breathe!

“Then, suddenly, everything shifted. It was like the eye of the storm had suddenly arrived. This tremendous calm settled upon me, and I just felt strongly that Hashem is in charge. He’s always in charge. I felt so connected to Hashem, I wondered why I ever worried about anything!

“I sailed on this feeling all through Kivi’s recovery. But today, I was getting all uptight about finances, and I realized I had lost the feeling. Lost the clear faith I had then and fell back into worrying.”

Why half a shekel [as opposed to a whole shekel]?

In contemplating our faith, we need to realize that we can never really understand [Hashem’s ways] fully, as our vision is finite. A person has to have complete faith, acknowledging that according to his limited understanding, he doesn’t know everything. Throughout life we don’t reach perfection; we’re always a work in progress and never see the full picture.

This understanding will prevent many doubts in emunah. Once we accept that as mere humans, with limited facilities, the ways of the world are beyond our comprehension, we’re able to put ourselves completely in Hashem’s hands and rely on Him in every aspect of our lives.

I could barely speak after hearing Chana’s account. I cleared my throat and struggled to swallow my tears.

“Chana, you may have lost it for a brief time today. But you’ve reached a level that most of us have no connection to. And you’ll get there again, a lot faster than the rest of us. Lucky you,” I whispered, “I envy your clarity.”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 631)


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