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Saturday, February 23, 2019 18 Adar A 5779


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
The Sin and Its Atonement
In a spiritual sense, there is a strong parallel between the sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. Both of them caused a powerful, lasting negative impact. The sin of the Tree of Knowledge caused G-d’s presence to depart from this world. Our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and subsequent Jewish leaders until Moses, brought G-d back into the world, but His presence departed again after the sin of the Golden Calf.
To atone for this sin and to draw the Divine presence back into the world, G-d gave the mitzvah of Machatzis HaShekel. It was a half-shekel tax brought by every Jew once a year to pay for communal offerings.
When Moses first heard about this atonement, he wondered how such a small token gift could atone for such a severe sin. Our sages say that G-d clarified for him by showing him a coin of fire. “Like this they will give,” G-d explained.
In other words, the mitzvah of machatzis hashekel embodies the idea that each of us is only a half. None of us is complete. Only when G-d joins with us can we be considered whole. All of us have an innate connection to G-d, but that’s not enough. We need to work to reveal it, to turn it into a “coin of fire”--to allow our love of G-d to burn and warm our entire life.
This is the answer to the sin of the Golden Calf. The cause of the sin was a terrible distance from G-d, and the mitzvah of machatzis hashekel removes that distance.
To this day, 3300 years after the sin, the impurity has not yet been removed completely. When Moshiach comes the world will finally complete its purification and the Divine presence will fully dwell in this world.
(The Rebbe, Likutei Sichos vol. 3, p. 923)

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