Thursday, February 11, 2021

Rosh Devarcha Emes = Adar

Chazal tell us that Moshe had difficulty understanding וְנָ֨תְנ֜וּ אִ֣ישׁ כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ by giving a half shekel.  That's all it takes to redeem a person's nefesh -- a half shekel?!  Hashem answered by showing him a half shekel of fire that he took from under the kisei ha'kavod (whatever that answer means).  

Chasam Sofer (Derashos, Shekalim 5669) asks: the pasuk in our parsha of Mishpatim by the din of a shor muad that kills someone tells us (21:30) אִם־כֹּ֖פֶר יוּשַׁ֣ת עָלָ֑יו וְנָתַן֙ פִּדְיֹ֣ן נַפְשׁ֔וֹ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־יוּשַׁ֖ת עָלָֽיו׃  Here you have the same idea -- a payment of kofer that is "pidyon nafsho," to redeem the value of a nefesh -- but here Moshe did not have any problem understanding the pasuk.  What's the difference between the two cases?

The idea of machtzis ha'shekel is that you don't know it all and don't have it all; you are incomplete without the input of others, without someone else providing the other half of the coin.  

B'shlama in our parsha, Moshe had no problem understanding how one person could pay a debt of  וְנָתַן֙ פִּדְיֹ֣ן נַפְשׁ֔וֹ . But Moshe Rabeinu was no fool and he understood Klal Yisrael.  וְנָ֨תְנ֜וּ אִ֣ישׁ כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ not by each person paying for himself, but only b'shutfus, only by coming together, only by each individual realizing that he has just half of the equation.  That Moshe had trouble understanding how to pull off.  How do you get Jews to be united?  How do you get people who are "mefurad," as Haman said, to work together?

The Chasam Sofer explains the symbolism of Hashem showing Moshe the machtzis ha'shekel of fire was an answer to that question, but I don't think we really have an answer yet or understand the answer yet, as we see from what goes on in our communities.  

אדר = ראשׁ דברך אמת.  Adar is the month of truth.  Maharal explains in Nesiv ha'Emes that "chosamo shel HKB"H emes" (Shabbos 55) because Hashem is one and truth is one.  If I put something in a box and ask you to guess what it is, there are an infinite number of wrong guesses you can make, but there is only one possible true answer.  

 מִדְּבַר־שֶׁ֖קֶר תִּרְחָ֑ק (23:7) we have in our parsha.   R' Zusha of Anipoli explained that if you have in you even a smidgin of falsehood, tirchak, it will push you away from Hashem.  "Chosamo shel HKB"H emes," so only someone who is true to themselves, true to Hashem, true to their fellow man, can be close to Hashem.

To acquire the midah of emes you need to start with the midah of anivus.  In order to acquire truth, you have to first have the humility to admit that you don't already have it.  Titein emes l'Yaakov -- the pasuk uses the name Yaakov, not Yisrael, because it signifies the heel, the lowest point.  Emes mei'eretz titzmach because when you plant a seed and it disintegrates into nothing before it can grow.    אדר = ראש דברך אמת is the birthday of Moshe Rabeinu, the anav m'kol ha'adam, and therefore Moshe emes v'toraso emes because Moshe had nothing of his own, he was just a kli kibul for Hashem's truth. 

This why we start Adar by being "mashmi'im al ha'shekalim," announcing the collection of machtzis ha'shekel.  You can't absorb the "chosamo shel HKB"H" of emes which is oneness if you are a splintered people divided into factions.  Machtzis ha'hekel = we need each other (and we need the humility to know that we need each other) in order to complete the picture, to provide the other half of the coin, so that we can function as one people.

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