This week we read Parshas Mishpatim. We also mark the first of four special weekends, as we call this weekend Shabbos Shekalim. This is to commemorate the yearly collection done at this time of the year from every Jew to have a share in the daily sacrifices that were brought in the Temple. The Torah begins the instructions to donate this half shekel coin with the words Ki Tisa es rosh b’nei yisroel – when you will count (lit. lift up) the heads of the Children of Israel (Exodus 30:12). Why does the Torah use the expression Ki Tisa – when you will lift up?
Rav Moshe Feinstien explains that the Torah is trying to correct the greatest reason that we fall short in our level of observance. How often could we really do better, but we feel “why bother, what difference does it make”. “Does what I do really make a difference?” By the instructions that the Torah gives in donating for the sacrifices, the Torah addresses this point. We are told that the amount of money to be given for this purpose is to be exactly half a shekel. “The rich man may not give more, nor may the poor man give less (Exodus 30:15)”. Imagine, you and Moses himself are giving the same share in all the yearly sacrifices!! You are just as important as every other person in the eyes of Hashem!! Imagine being the most important person on earth! This lesson can truly lift a person up, and give him a new appreciation for the importance of his observance in the eyes of Hashem. All of a sudden what I do is significant, does matter, and does make a difference. This is why the Torah begins this portion with the words Ki Tisa – when you will lift up this portion truly lifts up and gives new strength to every single Jew.