The wording of this verse poses another question: since the Torah requires us to give only a half-shekel, why does it specifically mention that an entire shekel is twenty gerah? Seemingly, what we are commanded to do is to bring ten gerah? The Rebbe’s explanation helps us see this verse in a entirely new light:
– “Half a shekel” is a symbol of a soul. The Torah clarifies that a Jew cannot become a complete entity – a “holy shekel” – unless he joins together with another Jew. Each Jew is ten gerah, a half-shekel. When, however, he joins together with another Jew, they reach twenty gerah, a complete entity.
However, there is another explanation why only a half-shekel was given to the needs of Tabernacle (and later – Beit ha-Mikdash). It emphasizes that every Jew is only a half. His true second half comes from above.
Thus the Maggid of Mezritch interprets the expression “shnai chatzotzros” (“two trumpets”) as “shnai chatzi tzuros” – “two half-entities”.
Figuratively, we could say that the One Who created this world (‘clothed’ in the Ten sefirot) represents 10 gerah. Every Jewish person – with the ten powers of his soul – represents the other 10 gerah.
When a union is established between them the whole entity is formed – “Shekel ha Kodesh”, the holy shekel.
Excerpts from the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel 25th Day of Adar I, 5752 (1992). Free translation.