Zecher Lemachatzit Hashekel
The Daily Halacha Moment - Zecher Lemachatzit Hashekel💲
״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)
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What is zecher lemachatzit hashekel?
What is the correct amount to give?
It is customary to give money to charity before the Megillah reading zecher lemachatzit hashekel, as a remembrance for the half-shekel. 
When giving the machatzit hashekel, one should say that he is only giving the money to charity "zecher lemachatzit hashekel", which was given in the time of the Bet HaMikdash. 
The Sephardic custom is that the machatzit hashekel is measured by the worth of 9 grams of pure silver, according to the value of silver at the time. The Ashkenazic custom is to give three coins which are half the value of the common coin in that time and place. In America, the custom is to give three half dollars, yet some say it's preferable to give coins which have 9 grams of silver. 
If possible, one should give the worth of the machatzit hashekel in three coins that are in circulation.  However, if one does not have three coins that total the worth of the machatzit hashekel, then paper money or another object with the same value may be used as the zecher lemachatzit hashekel. 
. Rama 694:1; Chazon Ovadia, Purim, p. 101. See Yalkut Yosef, Purim, p. 585, which lists several opinions regarding when the machatzit hashekel should be given.
. Chazon Ovadia, Purim, p. 101. See however, Kovetz Halachot, Purim, p. 42.
. Kaf HaChaim §20; Yechaveh Daat 1:86; Chazon Ovadia, Purim, p. 102; Yalkut Yosef, Purim, p. 588. See Yaskil Avdi 1:19 & 2:11 and Minchat Yitzchak 9:69.
For The Ashkenazic Minhag:
The Rama 694:1 writes that one should give three coins corresponding to the three times "Terumah" is mentioned in the parasha. These coins should be half of the regular coin of the time and place. Almost all Ashkenazic achronim including Kitzur S”A 141:5, Aruch HaShulchan 694:8, Biur Halacha s.v. VeYesh Litan, and Nitei Gavriel 26:3 accept the Rama as halacha. Halichot Shlomo, Moadim vol 2, 18:9 records Rav Shlomo Zalman's minhag to use 3 half dollars that were minted before 1964. This is unlike Tzitz Eliezer 13:72, which says that one only has to give an actual half-shekel coin, even though it is worth much less than a silver machatzit hashekel.
. . Rama 694:1; Moed LeChol Chai 31:51; Chazon Ovadia, Purim, p. 103.
. See Yaskil Avdi, vol. 1, 19:16 & 2:11, which says that one must give actual money, and not something else with the same worth. However, Chazon Ovadia, Purim, p. 105 says that since the din of giving the machatzit hashekel is only a custom today, one does not have to be stringent, and may even give objects that have the same value of a machatzit hashekel. See also Kaf HaChaim 694:20.
See also Laws Of The Holidays - Nacson p. 602.
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