Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In this week’s parsha the Torah commands us in the mitzvah of donating a half shekel. Every male from the age of 22 to 60 is required to donate a half shekel to the Beis Hamikdash.

The shekalim were actually donated during this time of year in the month of Adar. This is one of the reasons given as to why we read Parshas Shkalim on the Shabbos before Adar. The shekalim were used to fund the korbanos tzibur in the Mishkan.


Rav Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos 9) discusses an interesting ramification of this halachah. Women were exempt from donating a half shekel. Since they were exempt from donating they were similarly exempt from the korbanos tzibur that were funded by the shekalim as well. Thus, they should be exempt from davening Musaf, which was instituted to correspond to the korban Musaf.

This logic would not exempt women from davening Shachris, Minchah, and Maariv although they were instituted in correspondence with korbanos, because those tefillos were in essence instituted by the Avos for rachamim (see also Berachos 20b). The zemanim for those tefillos parallel the zemanim of the korbanos tamid shel shachar and tamid shel bein ha’arbayim, but in essence these tefillos were not instituted to correspond to the respective korbanos.

Furthermore, Tosafos in Berachos 26a (d”h Eiba’ei) says that if one does not daven Musaf he cannot make it up by davening two of the next tefillah, as one can do for missing one of the other tefillos. Tosafos explains that this is because the tefillah of Musaf primarily corresponds to the korban Musaf. If one did not bring the korban Musaf in its proper time, the korban can never be rectified. Thus, we have established that Musaf differs from the other tefillos in this regard. The only tefillah that remains in question whether women would be exempt from is Musaf.

Some have raised the following question on Rav Akiva Eiger’s premise: women are not the only ones who are exempt from donating half shkalim; kohanim, and, according to some, leviyim, and one who is under the age of 20 and older than 60 are all exempt from this mitzvah. Would we then venture to say that all of them are exempt from davening Musaf as well? Certainly not. So, why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

The Steipler Gaon suggested that Rav Akiva Eiger’s dilemma was based on another fact. In truth women should be exempt from the mitzvah of korban Musaf since it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman grama (time sensitive mitzvah, from which women are exempt). However, if they had been obligated to donate the shekalim that funded the korban perhaps that would have included them in the mitzvah. Since they are indeed exempt from donating, they are exempt from the korban entirely. However, all the males that are exempt from donating the half e are obligated in the mitzvah of bringing the korban Musaf, and therefore they are obligated to daven the corresponding tefillas Musaf.

In truth the Kiryas Sefer in Hilchos Shkalim, perek 1, says that women are exempt from the mitzvah of donating a half a shekel because it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman grama. This bothered Achronim, because one can donate shekalim through out the year. It should therefore not be considered a mitzvas assei she’hazman grama. Some suggest that in fact the Kiryas Sefer ruled that donating shekalim to be a mitzvas assei she’hazman grama because it was used to fund the korbanos that were in fact mitzvos assei she’hazman grama.

The Amudei Ohr (siman 7) takes issue with Rav Akiva Eiger’s position because he says that although women were exempt from donating the half shekel and from bringing the korban Musaf, they were included in the atonement brought about by the korbanos tzibur. Therefore they should be obligated to daven Musaf as well.

However, I would suggest that Rav Akiva Eiger opined that davening Musaf is in place of bringing the korban. If one was not able to bring the korban, they should be exempt from davening the corresponding tefillah. It is our hope and prayer that Hashem accepts our tefillos as if we brought the actual korban. And may it be His will that they are. In doing so, women will be included in the atonement achieved by the korbanos that we bring today, as they were in the times of the Beis Hamikdash.


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