Our Torah portion this week, Ki Tisa, opens with God instructing Moses to "Ki Tisa et Rosh B'Nei Yisrael LePekudeiHem" to take a census of the Israelites. Each Israelite is counted as a member of the community by donating a Machatzit HaShekel, a half shekel, into the communal pot.
The rabbinic commentators note that this is a rather unusual method of counting. They specifically wondered why it was that the Israelites were counted by donating a half shekel instead of a whole one. According to the Netivoth Shalom (The Slonamer Rebbi) the half shekel speaks to our desire, and our need for others, so that we can feel complete. At "the heart of the half shekel which so clearly points at our missing other half."
When we give our half shekel, when we come to shul, when we study torah, or engage with Jewish life, I think that we are making a statement that we are striving for something more; that we are looking to be completed. And my hope and prayer for us this Shabbat and beyond is that when we come together, pray together, learn together, we help one another, become more complete.
Rabbi Josh Dorsch