The Annual Census
Parshat Shekalim is the Torah portion in which G-d commands Moshe to take a census of the Jewish people by collecting a half-shekel from each one. The Rebbe explains that a census emphasizes the unique importance of each individual while at the same time reminding us that every Jew's existence is bound to that of his fellow man.
The concept of "loving your fellow man" is further emphasized by the fact that every Jew, no matter how rich or how poor, was required to give the exact same amount of money, a half-shekel. Moreover, the half-shekalim that were collected were used to bring communal offerings on behalf of the entire Jewish people. And although we are in exile we can still fulfill the mitzva of half-shekel by carrying out the custom of giving three half-dollars to charity before Purim.
These gifts will hasten the Redemption, for then "Moshe will gather," i.e., Moshe, "the first redeemer and ultimate redeemer," will gather every single Jew and proceed to Israel, to Jerusalem, to the Third Holy Temple.
Though we do not yet have the Third Holy Temple to which we could bring communal sacrifices, these mitzvot apply equally today. For, the Torah is infinite, not limited to time and place. While the physical Sanctuary was destroyed, the spiritual aspects of the service in the Temple are still carried out today through learning Torah and doing mitzvot.
When a Jew makes a contribution toward a sacred cause, it is immediately matched by a corresponding kindness from G-d to him. Sincere human effort is met halfway by Divine Grace, thus a goal which may at first seem unattainable to a person can actually be reached, because his goodness evokes a corresponding heavenly benevolence.
May our good deeds combined with G-d's benevolence finally bring us to attain our ultimate goal, the coming of Moshiach.