In this week's Parasha, we find the counting of Bnei Yisrael with the use of
Mahasit HaShekel. We see that Bnei Yisrael are not simply counted, but rather
they give Mahasit HaShekel, and all these Shekalim are counted to discover the
true number of people in the nation. Each member of the nation had to give
Mahasit Hashekel, the rich no more and the poor no less. The collected money was
to be used for the Mishkan, to purchase the animals for the sacrifices
throughout the year and to pay for parts of the Mishkan.
In this process, Hashem commands that each person must give Mahasit HaShekel, "Lechaper
Al Nafshotechem," in "redemption of their souls." Why did Mahasit HaShekel need
to be given as a redemption to Hashem for one's soul? And why does Hashem also
say that if this is done, there will be no "Negef" or plague during the
counting? Is there supposed to be a Negef, but the act of giving the Mahasit
HaShekel as a redemption stops it from occurring?
Yes. As we learn from David Hamelech.
At the end of Shemuel Bet, David was commanded to count Bnei Yisrael. He
appointed officers and counted the nation directly, without any use of the
Shekel. 70,000 people died following this act.
We learn that the act of counting has in it, inherently, misfortune and Ayin
Hara. What importance does the Shekel have as the "middle-man" of the counting,
that it prevented people from dying in our Parasha?
The answer lies in truly understanding "Lechaper Al Nafshotechem." The Seforno
explains that the giving of Mahasit Hashekel was no simple activity. Each person
had to recognize a sin that he committed and give the Mahasit Hashekel as a
redemption for that misdeed. We see that the giving of Mahasit HaShekel is
actually a moment of introspection, when one looks at one's deeds and sees where
one is lacking and where correction is needed. Without this redemptive quality
that the Mahasit HaShekel adds to the counting Bnei Yisrael, the nation would be
extremely vulnerable to misfortunate. As when one is counted, and singled out,
the Satan has more power to harm this individual.
Yaacov Avinu did not want to send Binyamin to Egypt, his only son remaining
alive from Rahel Emenu (for he believed Yosef was killed), because the Satan
would be able to harm him on the way, because it would be a time of danger, as
Binyamin would be alone- no Yosef, no Yaacov to protect him.
We can expand on this idea and apply it to our lives. One should always take the
modest path and lead a quiet life, for being singled out causes one to be more
vulnerable, as we see from this week's Parasha, as Bnei Yisrael needed to give "Kofer"
(a redemption) during their time of being counted (singled out), to protect