The Machatzit Hashekel

Hashem commanded Moshe Rabeinu that when counting the people of Israel, he should not conduct a regular counting that could cause the evil eye.

But rather, the counting of the people of Israel should be done thus that each Jew provides an identical sum to charity (half a shekel), according to Torah “the rich shall not give excessively and the poor should not be stingy”. Afterwards, the coins are counted and thus the number of Jews will be known.

The donations were used for the expenses beit HaMikdash and purchasing Korbanot.

The Machatzit HaShekel today | A commemoration of the half of shekel

Nowadays, there is no Beit HaMikdash, so Our Sages ruled that a commemoration of the half of shekel should still be in place, as was customary at the time of Beit HaMikdash.

The money can be donated to families in need or for a synagogue’s expenses, a beit midrash and other charitable needs.

It’s important to state commemoration so one doesn’t mistakenly associate it with holiness.

Today the donation is given as a commemoration of the Half-Shekel

It is customary to donate a sum of money equal to the value of the original half of a shekel, and today, in the year of 2023, the sum is about $8 per person, and any extra charity is rewarded.