Zecher LeMachasit HaShekel

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Basics

  1. The minhag is to collect the Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel which is a remembrance of the half shekel (which was collected in the time of the Bet HaMikdash before Nissan). [1]

When

  1. Some have the minhag to give it before Mincha of Taanit Ester. [2] and some have the minhag to give it after mincha but before reading of the Megillah. [3]

What it’s called

  1. One should make sure to call it Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel and not Machsit HaShekel [4] and some say it’s of no concern. [5]

How much

  1. According to Sephardim, one should give three coins which are in total worth 9 grams of pure silver of the time. However, one also fulfills this obligation using other forms of money. [6] If one is poor one may give a half of a modern shekel (for someone who lives in Israel). [7]
  2. Many Ashkenazim have the practice to give three coins which are half the value of the regularly used coin in that area. [8]
    1. In Israel, some say that one can use half dollars since it’s accepted money [9] and others argue that it shouldn’t be used because it’s not commonly used in Israel. [10]
    2. In Israel, one can use 3 half shekels [11] but not a whole shekel and a half shekel. [12]
    3. Some say it’s preferable to give both 3 half shekels and 3 half dollars (the old ones made from silver). [13]

Who’s obligated

  1. Some say one should give a Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel for anyone above Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but some say that one only needs to give for those above the age of 20. [14] It’s preferable to follow the first opinion. [15]
  2. Some say that women are obligated in this mitzvah [16] and some argue but conclude that it’s prerferable to give Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel for women as well. [17]
  3. It’s preferable to give for one’s small children. [18]

To whom is the money given

  1. Some say that the money should be given to poor people [19], some say it should be given to the upkeep of the Shul [20], and some say that it should be given to Yeshivas or establishments of Torah. [21]

Maaser money

  1. Someone who takes separates a tenth of one’s income for Tzedaka (Maaser) shouldn’t use that money for Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel nor for Matanot LeEvyonim. [22]

References

  1. Rama 694:1, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #1)
  2. Mishna Brurah 694:4
  3. Piskei Teshuvot 694:3, Natai Gavreil (purim 26:1) in name of Siddur Yavetz and Luach Eretz Yisrael write that the minhag is to give it between mincha and maariv. Piskei Teshuvot (pg 119) writes that the minhag of Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Elyashiv was to give at the night of the 15th before the megillah. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #1) writes that if one didn’t give it before Purim one should give it before the reading of the Megillah.
  4. Darkei Moshe 694:1, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #1), Torat HaMoadim (pg 96), Zichronot Eliyahu (Shin #2), and Shalmei Todah (purim pg 270), however, Sh”t Divrei Yosef 52 is strict even regarding the language Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel.
  5. Sh”t Zecher Simcha 76
  6. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #2-3)
  7. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #4)
  8. Rama 694:1 writes that one should give three coins which are considered half the regular coin of the time and place. Kitzur S”A 141:5
  9. Rav Shlomo Zalman in Halichot Shlomo (Moadim vol 2, 18:9)
  10. Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Derech Emunah (Maaser Sheni Perek 4 Biur Halacha D”H Mi) quoted in Piskei Shemuot (pg 116)
  11. Rav Elyashiv quoted in Piskei Shemuot (pg 117) in name of the Sefer BaLaylah HaHu and in Yeme Mishteh VeSimcha (pg 19 note 16)
  12. Rav Elyashiv quoted in Piskei Shemuot (pg 117)
  13. Rav Elyashiv in Halichot VeHanhagot (pg 22), Piskei Teshuvot 694:4
  14. Rama 694:1 based on the Rav Ovadyah MeBartenura holds that one is only obligated from the age of 20. However, the Tosfot Yom Tov (Shekel perek 1) quotes many others who hold that one should give it from the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This dispute is quoted in Mishna Brurah 694:5.
  15. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #5)
  16. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #6)
  17. Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 7:183 writes that it’s preferable to give for women. Piskei Teshuvot 694:5 and Halichot Shlomo (chapter 18 note 3) write that the minhag is that women are also obligated. Lastly, Rav Nassim Karlitz (quoted in Piskei Shemuot pg 119) holds that women are exempt but some hold that they’re obligated.
  18. Mishna Brurah 694:5 in name of the Eliyah Rabba, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #6)
  19. Levush 694:1
  20. Kaf HaChaim 694:22
  21. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #7)
  22. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Zecher LeMachsit HaShekel #8), Sh”t Yechava Daat 1:87