Shekalim and Crossbreeding Species - The Month of Adar Prepares for Nissan
The Talmud teaches that on the first day of the month of Adar, we begin to remember the shekalim and the forbidden crossbreeding of species (Shekalim 1:1). Why do we not proclaim the beginning of the collection of shekalim and the prohibition of crossbreeding species on another month?
The reason is that the Tabernacle was erected on the first day of Nissan (see Exodus 40:17), and as we have read on numerous occasions, it symbolizes that man should serve as a sanctuary for his Creator, as it is written, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8) and “I am the L-RD Who dwells among the Children of Israel” (Numbers 35:34). They are the work of the Holy One’s hands, for man possesses a soul that is part of G-d, and the Eternal seeks to rejoin this portion and dwell within him.
Great efforts are nevertheless demanded on the part of the one who desires to be imbued with the Divine Presence. Such a person needs Divine help in order to triumph over his own evil inclination, an inclination that constantly strives to make him sin (Sukkah 52a) and to prevent him from serving as a sanctuary for his Creator.
During the month of Adar (which prepares us for the month of Nissan) a man should therefore sanctify himself, diligently engage in Torah study, recite his prayers regularly, and perform as many mitzvot and good deeds as possible. As we have read, during seven days Moses raised and dismantled the Tabernacle, which took permanent form only on the first day of Nissan, an allusion to the progress and setbacks that a man may experience. We will therefore not get discouraged despite the falls that we endure during the seven days of the week (corresponding to the seven days of the inauguration of the Tabernacle). We will finish by elevating and imbuing ourselves with the Shechinah. The eighth day, which goes beyond the normal course of events (and which is above nature), meaning the first day of Nissan, resembles a new creation to us. All our sins will be atoned for, and we will fill ourselves with the Divine Presence, similar to the Tabernacle.
The month of Nissan carries the name “the first of months” because it assumes the aspect of the eighth day, during which the glory of G-d covered the Tabernacle. This is the month of the Final Redemption, as the Talmud teaches: “They were liberated in Nissan, and in Nissan they are destined to be liberated” (Rosh Hashanah 11a).
It is precisely during the month of Adar that we speak of the Shekalim. This is in order for man to remember that it is a time that is particularly conducive for Torah study and for improving one’s behavior by the preparations for the month of Nissan. During the month of Adar, one can triumph over the evil inclination, this har (mountain), which has the same Gematria (205) as Adar (Sukkah 52a). It is a month when the Children of Israel once again received the Torah with a whole heart, and it is for this reason that it is a suitable month to elevate oneself in the study of Torah and reach the Final Redemption and the revelation of the Shechinah.
As we have seen, it was during the month of Adar that Haman brought an accusation against the Children of Israel, who had refrained from the study of Torah. This is because it is not enough to perform mitzvot. Rather, one must listen to the voice of the Torah, in underestimating somewhat the value of the Shekalim. A month of preparations is necessary for a person to elevate himself to the concept of the eighth day, to reach the month of Nissan, the month of the redemption.
We also recall the problems of the Kilaim (the prohibition of crossbreeding species), and we realize the fact that they have no value (klum: “nothing”). In fact, the main thing is to attain the Torah and to make the Holy One, blessed be He, rule over the entire world. Citing the Zohar (III:86b), the author of Sefat Emet (Parsha Shekalim 634,637,653) connects the word Kilaim to beth kele (“prison”), and explains that through the offerings, one liberates oneself from a spiritual prison and prepares oneself for Passover. One removes perversity from the heart by eliminating the power of the evil inclination. One leaves the fifty (nun) gates of impurity, which alludes to the word Kilaim (= kele YaM; yud + mem = 50).
Let us radically distance ourselves, therefore, from greed and rebuild ourselves during the month of Adar. With G-d’s help, we will reach Nissan (the aspect of the eighth day), which transcends nature. We will then resemble a new created being, permeated with the Shechinah just like the Tabernacle.