1. Man’s Mission In Life
Generally speaking the job [or work] of man on earth is as the Sages state: “I am created to work for G-d.” And also to cause that every created being in the world should also “work for their Creator.”
2. General and Specific Missions
There are two aspects to this and this is hinted at in the two names of the Parshah [Torah Portion of that week’s talk]: Vayakel and Pikudei.
“Vayakel” [which means to gather together teaches] – that one should reveal in all created beings in this world their general mission which is to “work for their Creator,” (transcending the details of the mission). And through this one causes unity in every being in the world – [for they all have a unified goal.] And how much more does it cause a unity to the Jewish people through the Mitzvah and ideal of Ahavas Yisroel [love for a fellow Jew] and Achdus Yisroel [unity of] the Jewish people. [In other words we need to see what unites us – namely our sameness in making the world a better place.]
“Pikudei” [which means specific laws] – (so after the general service to unite the varied beings / creations – then a person) reveals within everyone and everything what is unique in their being [i.e. their unique purpose] in how they work for G-d.
3. Reveal the general unity in creation
There is totality in just the service of Vayakel – to reveal the general unity in creation and within the Jewish people, as mentioned.
4. Every Jew must unite with a fellow Jew
Half a shekel indicates the work to unite the Jewish people. And therefore we are emphasizing that when a Jew is alone [for himself] he is but a half and in order to become “a holy shekel” [good] a Jew must unite with a fellow Jew, to the extent of uniting with every other Jew.
5. “Love your fellow as much as yourself.”
This is the fulfillment of the Mitzvah to “love your fellow as much as yourself,” for the explanation of “fellow” does not only refer to a person that is in close proximity to you but even someone who is at the other end of the world.
6. All Jew’s are one being.
All Jew’s are one being. And even if there is a situation where one needs to try to prevent something negative from their fellow – the very best manner [i.e. method] to achieve this is [through] influencing the fellow in a pleasant and caring manner.
7. You and G-d are One
In order to achieve this unity (Vayakel) in the world and within the Jewish people – one should begin with the unity (Vayakel) that exists between oneself and one’s Creator. And this is also one of the explanations to what is written in the Torah “the shekel is [the weight of] 20 Geirah, half [the weight of a] shekel [should be given as a] present to G-d.” – That each and every Jew is completely united with G-d to the extent that they are literally the same thing. And therefore every Jew is only half, and G-d is (as if) their other half. And therefore G-d – who has enclothed himself in Ten Sefiros [Kabbalistic manifestations such as kindness, mercy, etc.] is like Ten Geirah, and every Jew who is [also] comprised of ten soul abilities – is [also] ten, and only through their unification becomes “the 20 Geirah” – the holy shekel.
8. Modeh Ani—Morning Gratefulness
And the explanation of this is: the first thing that a Jew does “immediately when he awakens” is to say “Modeh Ani” [Grateful am I to you [G-d] for returning my soul / energy back to me etc.] And this indicates his absolute unification with G-d. And this is a general job / work [i.e. gratitude to G-d] as it is above and beyond the details of one’s daily work.
9. Every Jew Is Completely Unified With G-d
And this is also the emphasis in the terminology “Grateful am I to you” [the direct translation of the Hebrew.] That one begins with gratitude and not with “I to you” – for the fact that every Jew is completely unified (“I to you”) with G-d is an obvious fact and there is no need to emphasize it. And therefore one begins and emphasizes only their job / work – Gratitude.
10. Wake UP
And we can additionally say, “that immediately when one awakens from one’s sleep” – includes what the Rambam writes “people are sleeping their lives away” (may we never know of such a thing, may we never know of such a thing!!!) For there needs to be an awakening from this sleep as well. And the start of the Divine work is that one needs to know that they are absolutely one with the essence of G-d; For they are literally part of G-d [on a soul level].
11. Giving Charity
The particular lesson from Parshas Shekalim is: that we need to increase in giving charity, for there are many levels in charitable contributions: ten percent, twenty percent, and “everything will a person give for his soul” [i.e. everything.] And to make a resolution yet in this Shabbos [to increase charitable contributions] and to also to begin to do this, for example through giving food and drink [which is permissible to give on Shabbos after inviting one into ones home] etc.
12. How To Give
There is also a lesson as to how one should give from the Torah portion of Shekalim: the reason that the half a Shekel was given was to purchase the communal sacrifices [there were many sacrifices offered on behalf of the public in the temple of old.] And Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s explanation on the verse “when a person from you will offer a sacrifice to G-d” is well known, that in order for man to come close to G-d it is through “from you [i.e. offer yourself as] a sacrifice to G-d” that one gives their entire being to G-d. And from this is understood the practical life lesson that giving charity and acts of goodness and kindness must be in a manner that one places within it all of one’s ten soul abilities [i.e. all of one’s heart and soul,] that in addition to the actual donation, one thinks about it and speaks about it etc. And through this one brings the redemption closer that it should come immediately and then G-d will do his charity that he will gather all of the Jews “a great community will return here,” to Israel.