By Jason Flatt
A couple of weeks ago, we read one of my favorite Torah portions, Parashat Ki Tissa. In this parsha, all of the Israelites are told to give a half-shekel to the building of the Tabernacle.
One of the ways Torah scholars try to understand the text is through Gematria where each letter of the aleph-bet holds a specific numeric value. It is said that there is a great symbolism every time two words hold the same numeric value in Gematria.
The Hebrew word for soul is nefesh, and it happens to hold the exact same numeric value as the word shekel. Thus, it can be said that when each of the Israelites gave their half-shekel to the census in Ki Tisa, symbolically, they were giving much more than a piece of metal.