|Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st & 2nd Aliyot: The Parsha begins with the Mitzvah of Shabbos and the penalty for her transgression. Note that Pasuk 35:5 is classic proof of the Oral Law. Those who deny the Oral Law must explain the literal translation of this verse to prohibit having any burning flame on Shabbos. This would forbid the use of lights, heat, and even Shabbos candles! It is the Oral Law which teaches us that the G-d’s prohibition was directed at lighting a fire, not having a fire. Moshe asked the Bnai Yisroel to donate the time, talents, and materials for the construction of the Mishkan [Tabernacle]. The Bnai Yisroel responded with unbridled enthusiasm.
3rd, 4th, & 5th Aliyot Talents and materials were donated and Betzallel and Oholiav were appointed as chief architects and artists. The response to Moshe’s appeal was so great that Moshe had to command the people to stop their donations! (see, miracles do happen!) The outer coverings of the Mishkan and the inner tapestries are detailed. The beams of the Mishkan, the Aron Hakodesh, and the Shulchan – Table are described.
6th & 7th Aliyot The Menorah and the inner Golden Altar are described. The outer ramped Altar, the Washstand, and the Mishkan’s surrounding enclosure are detailed.
This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read Parshas Shekalim. Parshas Shekalim is the first of the four special Shabbosim preceding Pesach when additional portions from the Torah are read. Shekalim is read on the Shabbos that precedes the month of Adar, or the Shabbos of Rosh Chodesh Adar (when Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos coincide).
A key function of the Bais Hamikdash (Temple) was the offering of the daily, korban – public sacrifices. The designation of “public” was because every male adult, 20 years and older, donated a 1/2 Shekel toward the purchase of the communal sacrifices. These moneys were gathered and used to purchase the daily public offerings.
The law demands that all sacrifices must be purchased from moneys collected for that year. The fiscal year for public offerings was from Nissan to Nissan. Therefore, the Rabbi’s ordained that the portion of the Torah describing the first giving of the 1/2 Shekel be read on the Shabbos of or before Rosh Chodesh Adar, one month before the 1/2 shekel was due, as a reminder that everyone should send in their money to the Temple.
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