A popular question for Parshas Shekalim is why the מחצית השקל, which each Jew gave for the maintenance of the קרבן תמיד, was only half shekel, rather than a whole one. Some מפרשים suggest that a half shekel was chosen in order to impart the lesson that each Jew is incomplete. Only when he joins together with the community does he truly become whole and fully functional.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld takes it one step further by explaining the Mishnah in Shekalim: “On the first of Adar, announcements are made concerning the donation of the shekolim and concerning kilayim (crops that are commingled).” Rav Yosef Chaim explained the relationship between these disparate matters (shekolim and kilayim) as follows: It is important for a person to be socially active and have friends. If one carries out a totally individualistic, self-centered life, he is considered to be an incomplete person, (just like a half shekel). Nevertheless, when choosing his friends, he must be sure to associate with the appropriate group of people. Just as certain mixtures of crops are forbidden (kilayim), so is it unwise to affiliate oneself with people who have poor middos and improper hashkofos.
Pirkei Avos teaches us that when Rabbi Yehoshua was asked what the most important focus of a man’s life should be, he said, "חבר טוב." When asked what a man should most avoid in life, he responded, “A bad friend.” As important as friendship is to a person’s growth, it is just as important to ensure that the pursuit of friends should not turn into a source of disruption. As parents, we must keep this lesson in mind at all times and carefully monitor our children’s friends and those who are influencing them.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School