Money can be a blessing or a curse. While we all too often see the destructive effects money can have, we also see that giving charity has become embedded in our society as a strong value, and even a social expectation. In all of history there never has been more charitable time than today. The fact is, however, that today’s “revolutionary” attitude toward charity is rooted in a value system going back to over 3,300 years ago in the Biblical Judaism.
This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shekalim, when we read the additional Torah portion in which G-d requests that each adult contribute half of a Biblical shekel for the upkeep of the Mishkan. Through unpacking two mysterious and cryptic passages in Jewish oral tradition connected to the mitzvah of the half-shekel, we can discover Judaism’s deep, timeless wisdom about the power of giving—not only how it benefits those to whom we give, but how it benefits us, the giver. We can learn how to put wealth into a healthy and meaningful perspective, and we can uncover how to unleash the true power and blessing that our money holds within it.