Mahatzit Hashekel - The legacy of the half a shekel coin 

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From the month of Adar to the month of Nissan, it is customary to give a donation equivalent to the amount of half a silver shekel from the times of the Temple, in accordance with the current value of silver to date. The weight of this coin was 8.5 grams of silver. It is necessary to mention that they are given in memory of the half a shekel coin.

 

“Let them give it, everyone who goes to the numbers ... half the shekel is an offering to the L-rd” (Shemot, 30:13).

In our times, there is no Temple and instead of giving the command to give half a shekel, the custom arose to give tzedakah in memory of the half shekels that were collected in the era of the Temple. And since there is no sacrifice now, the collected money is passed on to those in need, since charity, like sacrifice, atones for sins (Bava Basra 10b).

 

Who is obliged to give a “Mahatzit Hashekel”?

 

According to the law of the Torah, only men from 20 years old are required to give “Mahatzit Hashekel”. However, according to the accepted custom these days, the head of the family gives money for all the adult family members - including the boys from the age of 13 and the girls - from age 12.

 

How much should I give?

 

The cost of 8.5 grams of silver today is about $7,5 ($7,395 exactly).

It is about 25 ₪; 6 €; 556 ₽; 211 ₴ etc.

 

Collected in accordance to the number of adult family members in the family.

 

This custom is often confused with another, which is no less common.

 

During the Mincha prayer of Taanis Esther, 3 coins are placed in tzedakah in the currency accepted in the country of residence, with a face value of “half” - 1/2 shekels, 1/2 dollar, 1/2 ruble, etc.

 

In the Shulchan Aruch it is mentioned that half a shekel should be given on the eve of Purim and the fact that it is necessary to give exactly 3 coins, since this commandment is mentioned 3 times in the Torah (Orech Chaim 694: 1).

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