Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
At the close of the Parshah of Vayikra, the Torah teaches that a person who denied under oath that he had another’s money in his possession, but later admitted having sworn falsely and having had the money all along -- such a person must return the money to its rightful owner, “. . . and he shall add to it a fifth (of its value); to him to whom (the money) belongs shall he give it on the day of his guilt” (Leviticus 5:24).
If the verse had not explained that the “fifth” must be given to the victim of the crime, we might have supposed that the thief should give the fine for Sanctuary use, in effect “giving it to G‑d” to atone for having sworn falsely with G‑d’s name. After all, the idea of the fine is not that the victim should receive a bonus for his loss, but that the thief be punished. So long as the money is taken away from the thief, the beneficiary is immaterial -- we might think.
A Foundation of Love
The materials for the portable desert sanctuary, the Mishkan, came from the donations, the freewill offerings, of the Jewish people. Each Jew gave according to his and her ability and generosity of heart.
The adanim, however, the “bases” upon which the upright boards of the Mishkan walls rested -- its foundation -- came from a different source. These bases were cast from the silver given by the Jews as part of a mandatory levy -- a half-shekel from each individual. (The shekel was a standard small weight unit, used to weigh gold, silver and copper for monetary purposes.) Rich and poor, motivated and unmotivated, happily or grouchily, each Jew gave exactly the same amount.
Taking It with You
When bushfires threaten rural communities, and residents are urged to abandon their houses in the face of danger, many people find themselves in the unenviable position of having to decide which of their possessions to abandon.
You can’t take everything with you on an escape down the mountain; if it won’t fit in the back seat of the car, you’re probably going to have to leave it to the vagaries of fate and the mercies of the firefighters. Some people load up their family photo albums and copies of their insurance certificates; others chose to leave their paperwork behind, and concentrate on cramming their pets and livestock into the back of the van.