This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shekalim. On the Shabbat immediately before or on Rosh Chodesh Adar, the start of the month when we celebrate Purim, we read a section of Torah that tells how every Israelite made a half-shekel donation to the Tabernacle.
According to the Talmud, this is because the half-shekel donation served as a precursor to the proposed destruction of the Jews in the Purim story. In Megillat Esther Chapter 3 (verse 8-9), Haman promised the king 10,000 talents of silver if he were permitted to annihilate the Jews. And Resh Lakesh tells us (in the Tosafot on Megillah 16a) that amount of silver was equivalent to 300,000 shekels, which was one half-shekel for each of the 600,000 adult male Jews who left Egypt. This reminds us that the Israelites had already raised enough money to redeem themselves.
However, I would like to suggest another reason as to why. The half-shekel was a minimal amount, so everyone regardless of financial situation or circumstance was able to participate. But when everyone collectively came together, it made a huge difference. I think the same is true for Purim.
The Talmud also teaches us Mi Shenichnas Adar, Marbim B'Simcha, when we enter the month of Adar, our happiness increases. I do not think that the Rabbis meant that by changing the page on the calendar our happiness would increase. Rather, that during the month of Adar, as we prepare for Purim, there are lots of little opportunities to bring more joy into the world. One of those opportunities is by giving Mishloach Manot, Purim gift baskets, to friends and families. I am really excited and thankful that this year our USYers will be making Mishloach Manot and delivering them to the entire congregation.
Please consider participating in the mitzvah and supporting our youth community, as they send Mishloach Manot to our entire congregation. You can do so by clicking here. With each basket delivered and received, a little bit more joy is added into the lives of the recipients and into our world. Little by little, Marbim B'Simcha, our joy as a community will be multiplied.
May this Shabbat and this month of Adar be filled with happiness, joy, and blessings for all of us.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch