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Thursday, February 23, 2006


Parshas Shekalim

Master! Lift up the light of Your face to us,
And I will lift up my shekel in the proper and exalted house,
And in justice, consider the worth of "Ki Tisa" ...

(Free translation excerpted from Musaf piyutim of Shekalim)


Is there anything more beautiful than our piyutim? I don't think so. As an editor and dialectical analyst (my 12th-grade rebbe called me that), I find so much meaning and joy and depth in these oft-ignored poems of praise and longing. In my humble opinion, we must re-introduce them to our davening. And we should teach them in schools, too.

Every single word is laden with meaning! Come on, people! It's gorgeous!!! Everything revolves around the root S-A, which is to lift or count. But of course, it's BOTH!

Rabbi Zev Shandalov, shlita, of Cong. Kehilath Jacob Beth Samuel in Chicago, once remarked that we need to start getting ourselves into the 'geula' mentality -- the mindset that things are going to be different when Moshiach comes. We have to give proper respect to Kohanim, because that's what we're going to be doing when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, BBA. We have to think about the way it was, and the way it's going to be. We're all going to march into the holy courtyard with our half-shekels in hand. I can't wait.

That's the emotion conveyed in these poems. RIBONO SHEL OLAM! I'm ready to bring You my shekel! Count me in! Lift me up!

If you read it, and you understand it, it will elevate you to tears. So what are you waiting for?

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