March 1, 2019 / Comments (0)

A Half-Shekel For the Environment

This coming Shabbos brings us the first of the arba parashot—the four Torah portions that come before Pesach—Shabbat Shekalim. Shekalim is the plural form of shekel.

This all starts with Shemot 30:14-16, “Everyone who is entered in the records, from the age of twenty up, will give the L-rd’s offering.” In this case, the rich and poor alike give a half-shekel to the cause.

This is further codified for a post-Temple Jewish world by the Mishnah in Shekalim 1:1: “On the first day of Adar they give warning of the dues. On the 15th of Adar, they read the Megillah in cities, and repair the roads in and out of the city, repair the mikvaot, take care of public need, mark graves, and remove forbidden mixed plantings from the field.”

In this blog’s goal to make everything about wilderness, though our primary obligation should be to our Jewish communities, this is a good time of the year to consider your commitments to environmental enterprises.

Consider volunteering for trail maintenance. Consider environmental activism, as your conscience allows. Look to perhaps financially support land conservation trusts. Join a trail association, or a watershed protection group.

This year, Shabbat Shekalim overlaps with Parsha Vayakhel, which talks about the artisanal creation of the Mishkan. We can’t always be compelled to torture a wilderness allegory out of every reading; nor should we. In this case, the confluence is a broader case – just as we give our half-shekel and put our best effort into the places we commune with the Divine, we can remember that our care for Creation itself should mirror that.

Shabbat shalom!

Last modified: March 1, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *