By Rav Shmuel Brazil
The parsha begins with the mitzvah of machaztis hashekel. The mefarshim ask why only a half of a shekel was to be donated and not an entire shekel. The answer might lie in the following interpretation.
As we say in the daily Shemah one is obligated to love Hashem bechol meodecha with all one’s money [Rashi}. Rav Zadok from Lublin explains this command with an interpretation from the gemarrah that the donkey of Pinchos Ben Yair did not eat non tithed grain. He asks does that mean his donkey was also frum like its owner? However the answer is that one’s possessions contain a spark of his nefesh and therefore it expresses an intrinsic essential of his being. The greater the love one has for Hashem, the greater it manifests itself in his possessions. The love of Pinchos Ben Yair towards Hashem and His mitzvos was so strong that this love extended itself even in his donkey to the extent that it also like its master would not partake from food that was not tithed.
This concept can be hinted in the word me’od which means money but also spells adam. That is to say that the me’od of a person contains part of the adam within itself.
The Medrash comments that Moshe did not fully comprehend the idea of the half shekel until Hashem demonstrated to him a heavenly coin of fire descending from the Kisay Hakavod. The interpretation of this Medrash could be understood as follows. It comes to explain how is it possible just by donating money and materials towards a holy purpose can they be transformed into a place upon which the Shechina can rest? The answer is that money as his possession “possesses” a spark of his nefesh and therefore when given properly with happiness and enthusiasm the money itself actually possesses and reflects that love and fire of the donor. Because of this reality one can take the donations that the Yidden gave towards the building of the Mishkan and create an abode suitable for the resting of Hashem’s presence. It is not merely a place that reflects the love and fire of Benei Yisrael but rather it actually contains and is alive with the love of fire of Benei Yisrael. This understanding was revealed to Moshe Rebbenu.
This can also be the reason why only a half of a shekel was required to donate. The word shekel is gematriah nefesh. Hashem was teaching that a person only possesses within himself only half a nefesh since part of it is spread out into all his possessions as well. It is for this reason that he can actually deposit his love that lies within himself onto his possessions to create an extension of himself beyond his body.
In the time of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash the gemarrah comments that Hashem let His anger out on the wood and stones of the Temple and not on His people and hence they were not totally annihilated. The deeper understanding of this is that Hashem had to punish Yisrael. He chose to let His anger out on the part of nefesh that lay within the stones and wood rather than on the part of them that lay within their bodies.
The Medrash says that the money that Haman gave to King Achasvairosh for the purpose of wiping out Klall Yisrael was cancelled by the money that Yidden previously gave towards the building of the Mishkan. How so? Because the Yidden when they donated towards the Mishkan they gave money that contained also love and enthusiasm. The goyim do not have that same relationship with their possessions. So even though the money of Haman might cancel out the money given by the Yidden however the love and fire that became an intrinsic part of the money given towards the Mishkan could not be cancelled out.
Now we can understand why the parsha of Shabbos follows the mitvah of machatzis hashekel. For like the nefesh of a person can be extended and felt into his possessions, so too the nefesh of Shabbos [uvayom hashevee’ee shavas vayeenafash] can is extended and can be experienced within the other days of the week [sof maaseh bemachshava techillah].