Israel’s Sanhedrin reinstates assessment for daily operations
After 2,000 years, the Temple tax is returning for all Jews. Worldwide.
Israel’s Sanhedrin, the ancient high court that recently was reborn, has announced not only the resumption of the half-shekel per person per year tax, but procedures so that that Jews around the globe can participate.
It’s based on God’s instructions in Exodus that everyone 20 years and older “shall give the contribution to the Lord. The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel.”
According to a Breaking Israel Israel report, while the Temple was standing, “every Jewish man was required to give one half-shekel weight of silver, approximately eight grams of silver (worth about $4 today), as a mandatory tax to support the Temple. Each man was obligated to give the same amount, regardless of his economic condition. The coins, once deposited in the Temple courtyard, were hekdesh (sanctified) and not permitted to be used for any other purpose.”
Reuven Prager actually revived the instruction a number of years ago when he started minting silver coins that followed biblical requirements. People could buy the silver coins and then deposit the coins with the Otzar Hamikdash (Temple Treasury) organization set up to collect them.
It already has collected some 200,000 silver coins.
It’s not a precedent that the tax is being collected without a physical temple. The nation of Israel observed the requirement when the Temple reigned in Jerusalem, and even continued the practice after the First Temple was destroyed until Hadrian, a Roman emperor, outlawed it in 135 A.D.
The physical delivery of the coin is significant, which made it hard for Jews spread around the globe now, unable to make regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem, to participate.
And the Sanhedrin also has issued a medallion that can be purchased and used in place of the actual coin, with the advantage that because the medallion is not sanctified, it does not have to be physically deposited in Jerusalem.
The funds, however, are dedicated to the Temple operations, the training of priests and the re-creating of special utensils used in the Temple, the report said.
Sanhedrin spokesman Rabbi Hillel Weiss told BIN that, “The half-shekel was a tax intended to be used for a specific purpose.”
“The medallion itself is not sanctified to the Temple, but any money raised by the medallion is sanctified and cannot be used for any other purpose.”
Also in biblical times, tokens were purchased to be redeemed for the animal or grain actually used in sacrifice, the report said.
“Until the return of the three yearly pilgrimage festivals in Jerusalem makes it possible to reinstate the practice of the half-shekel tax being hand-delivered by every Jew to the Temple, the Sanhedrin’s medallion is helping the Temple become a reality,” the report said.
WND had reported only weeks ago that a flock of sheep described in the pages of Genesis have returned to Israel for the first time since Jacob walked the Holy Land.
In Genesis 30:32, Jacob leaves his father-in-law Laban’s household and takes a very specific part of the flock as payment. The animals he takes are described as “every speckled and spotted one, and every dark one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and of such shall be my hire.”
The sheep followed Jacob from Canaan to North Africa. Though they have spread throughout the world, they had not returned to Israel – until now.
An Israeli couple living in Canada, Jenna and Gil Lewinsky, raised a group of the “Jacob sheep,” which, as a “heritage” breed, have retained most of its characteristics since ancient times.
In a repeat of how the Jewish diaspora returned to its country after thousands of years, the couple sought to bring the sheep back to their ancient homeland. But it required detailed negotiations between Canada and Israel. Indeed, the case of the sheep reportedly cleared the way for a sweeping trade agreement between the two nations.
A total of 119 of the distinctive four-horned sheep are now in their homeland. Gil Lewinsky says the sheep will eventually be part of a “Heritage Park” which will allow people to come see the animals.
The return of the “Jacob sheep” is not the only sign in recent years. There were recent moves by the nascent Sanhedrin towards appointing a high priest in case the Temple is rebuilt. An altar has already been constructed for use in sacrifices if necessary. And there is an effort to bring another group of biblically important animals, the “red heifers” which can restore a state of purity after ritual slaughter, to Israel.