Maseches Shekalim discusses the annual collection of the Machatzis ha'Shekel, the half-Shekel that every adult Jewish male is obligated to contribute to the Beis ha'Mikdash each year, which is used for the purchase of the Korbenos Tzibur for that year. The Maseches consists of eight Perakim, which may explain why it is placed after the ten-Perek-long Pesachim in Seder Moed. Although the commentators search for a meaningful order in the Masechtos of the Shas, Rav Reuven Margoliyos (Yesod ha'Mishnah v'Arichasah, chapter 3) points out that a general, underlying order is readily apparent: the Masechtos in each Seder seem to be organized according to their length in numbers of chapters, starting with the longest and concluding with the shortest (the only exception to this rule is the beginning of Seder Zera'im). (The reasons that the commentators give for the order of the Masechtos are still needed to explain why one Maseches precedes another when the two are of equal length.) In certain editions of the Shas, Maseches Shekalim is printed out of place, after Maseches Sukah.
Maseches Shekalim is unique in that it is the only Maseches of the Yerushalmi that is printed in the common editions of the Bavli and is included in the Dafyomi cycle. The obvious question is, why?
Although the Mishnayos of the Masechtos for which there is no Gemara have traditionally been included in the Shas, it is puzzling why the entire volume of a Maseches of Yerushalmi was included in this instance. Perhaps it was included because it is the only Maseches in Moed for which no Gemara Bavli exists. This is in contrast to the Masechtos of Seder Zera'im, for which there is almost no Gemara Bavli (except for Maseches Berachos). Since its inclusion involved only a few extra pages, the ordinarily frugal printers decided in the case of Shekalim to include the full Yerushalmi and not just the Mishnayos. (For reasons that are not clear, Yerushalmi Horayos is also included in some printings of the Shas Bavli, perhaps due to the brevity of the Bavli on that Maseches.)
A more perplexing question is why the founder of the Dafyomi cycle, Rav Meir Shapiro zt'l, included Shekalim in the Dafyomi cycle. Perhaps his motivation was to enable the entire Seder Moed to be completed. This hypothesis is confirmed by the fact that he included Mishnayos Kinim and Midos in the cycle in order to complete Seder Kodshim. Why, though, did he not include Mishnayos Eduyos and Avos to complete Seder Nezikim? (Perhaps Avos was left out because of the widespread custom to learn one chapter every Shabbos after Minchah during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuos - or Sukos.) Perhaps Maseches Shekalim, as well as Kinim and Midos, were included in the Dafyomi cycle in order to fulfill the teaching of the Chachamim, "When Talmidei Chachamim study the laws of the Beis ha'Mikdash and its service, it is considered as though the Beis ha'Mikdash is rebuilt in their days" (Menachos 110a).
There is no standard pagination in the Yerushalmi. Rather, the length of the Daf in each edition is determined by the commentaries that happen to be printed alongside it. Since each printing of the Yerushalmi includes different commentaries, each printing has a different number of Dafim in the Maseches. For example, in the Vilna Shas (Bavli), Shekalim finishes on Daf 22, in the Warsaw Shas on Daf 30, in the Zhitomir Shas on Daf 13, and in the earliest printing of the full Shas (Venice 1522, in which Shekalim is printed only with the Rambam's Perush ha'Mishnayos) it finishes on Daf 12. Not only does the length of Shekalim differ in the various editions of the Bavli, it also differs in the various editions of the Yerushalmi. In the Vilna Yerushalmi, it finishes on Daf 33, while in the Zhitomir Yerushalmi it reaches only Daf 31. Incidentally, this phenomenon explains the mysterious "lengthening" of the Dafyomi cycle in the eighth cycle (which began in June of 1975/5735). Rav Meir Shapiro's original calendar was tailored to a 13-Daf-long Maseches Shekalim. When that edition became uncommon, the cycle was changed to accommodate the 22-Daf version of the Vilna edition, effectively lengthening the Dafyomi cycle from 2702 days to 2711 days.
The language and phraseology of the Yerushalmi differs markedly from that of the Bavli. The difficult Aramaic words and unfamiliar phrases, combined with the diversity (and often blending) of variant Girsa'os and the absence of guidance from Rishonim, have made the study of Yerushalmi a neglected discipline, pursued by only a small number of expert scholars. Shekalim, unfortunately, is no exception. Since each commentator has his own approach to the Maseches, for one who wants to learn the Maseches well but at a reasonable pace it is advisable to choose one of the commentators and stay with his commentary throughout the Maseches.
Today, Shekalim is commonly learned with the Hagahos ha'Gra and the Tiklin Chadtin. These commentaries are printed in the Vilna Shas and provide a clear and adequate elucidation of every point of the Maseches. In our Background to the Daf, we provide notes on Girsa'os of the Tiklin Chadtin that are not recorded in the Hagahos ha'Gra, as well as typographical errors in the Tiklin Chadtin and Hagahos ha'Gra themselves. (For those who want to learn the Maseches more in-depth, lists of variant Girsa'os in the Yerushalmi can be found in DIKDUKEI SOFRIM and in Rav Sofer's edition of Shekalim with the commentary of Rabeinu Meshulam, see below.)
Although all of the differences in style between the Bavli and the Yerushalmi cannot be summarized in just a few short lines, the following points are easy to remember and are helpful to keep in mind when one learns Yerushalmi:
The Yerushalmi often leaves out the work "Amar." Thus, when a seemingly pointless sequence of names of Amora'im is listed, the Yerushalmi means to say that "A said that B said..." and so on.
The letter "Alef" is often dropped from the beginning of a word. "Mar" is "Amar" ("he said"), "Nan" is "Anan" ("we"). The same applies to names: "Rebbi L'azar" is "Rebbi Elazar" and "Rebbi Bun" is "Rebbi Avun."
Unlike the Bavli, there are no "captions" in the Yerushalmi. That is, when the Gemara switches from a discussion of one part of the Mishnah to a discussion of the next part of the Mishnah, it does not begin with a short citation from the Mishnah enclosed between colons. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult to determine which point of the Mishnah the Yerushalmi is discussing.
(In the original printings of the Yerushalmi, all of the Mishnayos of each Perek were printed at the beginning of that Perek, similar to what we find in the Bavli in the first chapter of Sanhedrin and the fourth chapter of Ta'anis. Only later were the Mishnayos inserted where the Yerushalmi appeared to switch to a discussion of that Mishnah. There also appears to be no consensus about the numbering of the Halachos; in different printings the Halachos start at different places. For this reason, a commentator occasionally will assert that the Yerushalmi that follows one Mishnah is actually a continuation of the Sugya that preceded the Mishnah; see, for example, Rabeinu Meshulam to Shekalim 4:3.)
Anyone who learns Maseches Shekalim owes a debt of gratitude to the late Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Simchah Bunim (the "Lev Simchah"), for his bold declaration during the Kenesiyah Gedolah of 1980/5740 in which he recommended the study of the Yerushalmi with a Dafyomi-style schedule. His Chasidim carried out his request, and they subsequently produced a number of excellent works that significantly enhance the study of the Yerushalmi.
There also exists a public "Yerushalmi study library" called Mechon Sha'arei Tziyon, which contains extensive archives and lists of commentaries on the Yerushalmi. The library is located in the courtyard of the Har Tzvi synagogue at 25 Tzefanyah Street, Jerusalem (telephone: 972-2-581-8007).
RABEINU MESHULAM. A Talmid of Rabeinu David ben Rabeinu Klonimus of Mintzberg. (Rabeinu David, a disciple of Rabeinu Tam, was one of the Ba'alei ha'Tosfos. He is cited by Tosfos in Kesuvos 4b, DH Ad.) Rabeinu Meshulam's commentary on Shekalim was written in the early 1200's. His commentary was printed for the first time with short notes and references by Rav Avraham Sofer in 1954/5714, with comparisons of the Girsa'os of various manuscripts of the Yerushalmi, and with the commentary described in the next entry.
TALMID SHEL RABEINU SHMUEL BEN REBBI SHNEUR. Rabeinu Shmuel ben Shneur, one of the Ba'alei ha'Tosfos known as "Chachmei Ivra," lived in Evreux, France. His "student," whose identity remains unknown, authored a commentary apparently based in large part on the commentary of Rabeinu Meshulam (see above), who was either his contemporary or lived not long before him. Rav Avraham Sofer printed this commentary with that of Rabeinu Meshulam, as mentioned above.
Despite the name that Rav Sofer chose for the commentary, the author apparently was not a student of Rabeinu Shmuel ben Shneur. Rather, he preceded Rabeinu Shmuel by a number of years. The words "my rebbi, Rabeinu Shmuel ben Shneur" appear twice in the manuscript (page 49 and 50), but in both places they seem to be a marginal comment that was added to the side of the manuscript that disagrees with the conclusions of the author of the manuscript. That is, the talmid of Rabeinu Shmuel ben Shneur commented on the commentary, in the name of his rebbi, but he certainly did not author it.)
RABEINU SHLOMO OF SIRILIYO. Known as the "Rash Siriliyo," he wrote a comprehensive commentary on all of Yerushalmi Zera'im, as well as on Shekalim, which was printed from a manuscript (of the British Museum, London) by Rav Efraim Ze'ev Garboz, whose elucidations on the commentary are called "Har Efraim" (1958, Jerusalem).
RAMBAM. The Rambam's Perush ha'Mishnayos on Shekalim appears in the Vilna Shas and was printed in a separate volume, newly translated from the original Arabic, with notes and references by Rav Yosef Kapach (Mosad ha'Rav Kook, 1963, Jerusalem, and reprinted in 1992). The Rambam's commentary that appears in the Vilna Shas is a translation (from Arabic to Hebrew) of the Rambam's first edition (Mahadura Kama) of his commentary on Mishnayos, which the Rambam wrote at a young age. After the Rambam completed writing the Mishneh Torah, he re-edited the original draft of his commentary on Mishnayos. One of his aims was to ensure that everything in the commentary was consistent with his rulings in the Mishneh Torah. This edited version is known as the Mahadura Basra ("final edition"). It was translated and published in recent years by Rav Yosef Kapach.
RABEINU YEHUDAH BEN REBBI BINYAMIN HA'ROFEH. Commonly known as the RIVEVAN, his commentary on the Mishnayos of Shekalim is printed alongside the text of Shekalim in the Vilna edition of the Shas and Mishnayos. He lived in Italy in the mid-1200's.
RA'AVAD. Although we do not have the Ra'avad's commentary on Shekalim, Rabeinu Shlomo Siriliyo claims to have seen his commentary on about two-thirds of the Maseches (see introduction of Rash Siriliyo to Zera'im). (Parts of the "Likutim mi'Kesav Yad Kadmoni" (beginning of chapters 1, 3, 5), which is printed in the Mishnayos, may be remnants of the Ra'avad's commentary.)
ME'IR[I] Rabeinu Menachem ben Shlomo (d. 1315/5075) wrote his comprehensive Halachic work, "Beis ha'Bechirah," on 37 Masechtos of Shas. For some Masechtos, he composed a running commentary on the words of the Gemara (Chidushei ha'Me'iri) in addition to "Beis ha'Bechirah." The Me'iri was a student of the Rashba, and he occasionally even cites from commentaries as late as those of the Ritva. The Me'iri rarely mentions another Rishon by name. Instead, he created "nicknames" for the commentators from whom he often cites, such as "Gedolei ha'Rabanim" for Rashi, and "Gedolei ha'Mechabrim" for the Rambam. A convenient list of these, along with their true identities, can be found at the beginning of the Beis ha'Bechirah on Beitzah. Although the Me'iri did not write specifically on the Yerushalmi of Shekalim, nevertheless he reviews the conclusions of the Yerushalmi (and sometimes even cites from it at length) in his commentary on the Mishnayos.
PERISHAS HA'ROSH. Rabeinu Asher ben Yechiel (d. 1328/5088), originally from Germany, fled to Spain after his mentor, Rabeinu Meir of Rotenburg, was taken captive by the authorities and passed away in jail. One of the great sages of Germany, he wrote commentaries and rulings on most of Shas which had a profound influence on the redactors of Halachah. His commentary on Mishnayos Shekalim is known as "Perishas ha'Rosh." It was printed as a separate volume by Rav Nisan Zaks in 1943 (and reprinted in 1967). (The Bartenura to Shekalim bases most of his commentary on the Rosh; see Vilna Ga'on in Eliyahu Rabah to Kelim 14:3. Aside from what already appears in the Bartenura's commentary, there is not much more novel commentary in the Perishas ha'Rosh.)
SEFER HA'AGUDAH. Short, Halachic commentary on the Mishnayos by Rabeinu Alexander Zuslin ha'Kohen (d. 1348/5108; he was killed by gentiles in a pogrom during the period of the Black Plague).
RAV ELIYAHU OF FULDA ("MAHARA FULDA"). This commentary appears in the Warsaw Yerushalmi, and has been printed separately.
KORBAN HA'EDAH and SHEYAREI KORBAN. By Rav David Frenkel, the Rav of Berlin. (The Korban ha'Edah is a straightforward, Rashi-like commentary, while the Sheyarei Korban is a more analytical, Tosfos-like commentary.)
PNEI MOSHE and MAR'EH HA'PANIM. By Rav Moshe Margolies of Amsterdam. Some consider him to have been the mentor of the Vilna Ga'on. (The Pnei Moshe is a straightforward, Rashi-like commentary, while the Mar'eh ha'Panim is a more analytical, Tosfos-like commentary.)
GILYON HA'SHAS and TZIYON YERUSHALAYIM. These brief notes were written by "the Ba'alei Meforshei ha'Yam," RAV YOSEF SHAUL NATANSOHN and his brother-in-law, RAV MORDECHAI ZEV HA'LEVI ETTINGER.
TIKLIN CHADTIN, MISHNAS ELIYAHU, HAGAHOS HA'GRA. These three commentaries, printed together in the Vilna Shas, were written by Rav Yisrael Mi'Shklov, a disciple of the VILNA GA'ON. The "Tiklin Chadtin" is a line-by-line commentary on the Gemara, whose explanations often differ significantly from those suggested by the Korban ha'Edah. The "Mishnas Eliyahu" contains in-depth discussions of various topics in the Gemara, and it often analyzes differences between the Yerushalmi and the Bavli or differing opinions of Rishonim. The "Hagahos ha'Gra" printed in the margin of the Gemara emends the text of the Gemara based on the Tiklin Chadtin's commentary. (It is ironic that the name of his work is often pronounced as "Taklin Chadtin," which means "new obstacles" (as in the Targum to Tehilim 64:6), The correct pronunciation is "Tiklin Chadtin," which means "new Shekalim" (as the term is used in Temurah 23b).)
As mentioned earlier, one who does not have the time to learn the Maseches in-depth with the other major commentaries is advised to learn the Gemara with the Girsa of the Hahagos ha'Gra and with the commentary of the Tiklin Chadetin.
PNEI ZAKEN. A brilliant commentary on the entire Maseches by the Kamarna Rebbe, Rav Yitzchak Isaac of Kamarna (1851, Lemberg), written with the objective of explaining every word of the Yerushalmi exactly as it appears in our edition without emendating the text.
DARVONEI ZAHA[V] A short commentary on the entire Maseches by Rav Moshe ha'Kohen of Weigersheim (1785, Fjorde).
ZICHRON ELAZAR. A commentary on the Maseches by Rav Elazar Landau (1906, Brode).
MENACHEM MESHIV NEFESH. Written by Rav Menachem Manish Heilprin. These short, helpful comments on all of Seder Moed pertain to the literal meaning of the Gemara (and Rashi), and are intended for those learning the Maseches quickly. This work includes many Girsa corrections as well.
TALMUD YERUSHALMI SHEKALIM IM BI'URIM. By Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit'a, one of the leading sages in Eretz Yisrael today, son of the Steipler Ga'on zt'l, the author of "Kehilos Yakov." Based on his Shi'urim on the Yerushalmi, this work is a concise and lucid commentary on Maseches Shekalim, in which he often solves problems and questions which earlier commentators left unresolved. This volume includes short insights written by his father, the Steipler Ga'on. Rav Chaim Kanievsky also published the SHEKEL HA'KODESH, another in his series of "Mishnah Berurah" type commentaries on subjects not discussed in the Shulchan Aruch. This phenomenal work, which is based on the text of the Rambam in Hilchos Shekalim, comprises a Halachic synopsis of the Maseches that addresses, in-depth, every approach presented by the Rishonim, as well as many of the comments of the Acharonim.
IKVEI AHARON. A line-by-line commentary by Rav Yakov Wehl, Menahel of Beis Yakov of Brooklyn, New York (Feldheim, 1991). This volume also includes a more comprehensive commentary called "Pesher Davar," in which the author addresses the various approaches of the Rishonim and Acharonim to each Sugya. It is based on the standard Vilna printing of Maseches Shekalim.
SHIKLEI YOSEF. A concise, line-by-line commentary on the Maseches by the late Rav Yosef Tzvi Aronson (Monsey, New York, printed by Gross Bros., 1971), followed by a few pages of the author's own insights.
LIKUTEI SUGYOS MI'TALMUD BAVL[I] Rav Tzvi Elimelech Fanet, Rav of Congregation Bnei Shileshim in Bnei Brak, compiled a collection of all of the Sugyos in the Talmud Bavli that deal with Maseches Shekalim along with the comments of Rashi and Tosfos. In his brief "Hagahos ha'Tzvi veha'Tzedek," Rav Fanet compares the conclusions of the Bavli to those of the Yerushalmi. This volume includes the full text of the Rambam's Hilchos Shekalim (from the Mechon Shabsi Frankel edition).
KOLLEL IYUN HADAF. Kollel Iyun Hadaf's invaluable "Insights to the Daf" touch on many of the questions that one is likely to ask on the Gemara and Rashi, as well as clarifications and in-depth discussions on Halachic issues and Agados of the Masechta. Kollel Iyun Hadaf's Charts (in English and Hebrew), Graphics, and "Background to the Daf," with translations, Girsa notes, and introductions to concepts discussed on the Daf, are invaluable study aids. "Review Questions and Answers" facilitate review of the Masechta, as does the "Daf-Quiz," while "Outlines of the Daf" enhance one's learning. In Hebrew, one can review with "Galei Masechta," a concise Hebrew review of the Gemara, Rashi, and Tosfos. The Kollel also addresses questions on the Daf in an interactive discussion forum (at DAF@DAFYOM[I]CO.IL).
YOSEF DA'AS - Published by Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Rav Ben Arza's renowned Hebrew compendium on the Masechta is now available in an expanded, hardcover second-edition. This outstanding publication provides clear summaries of the distinct approaches of the Rishonim to the Sugya, analyses of the Acharonim, inspiring insights of the masters of Musar and Machshavah, and summaries of the Halachic conclusions of the Poskim. A comprehensive review section is also included.