Aliya Summary: This Aliya discusses various endowments pledged to the Temple coffers. A person can pledge the worth of an individual, in which case the Torah prescribes how much the person must pay — depending on the gender and age of the individual who is being “assessed.” An animal which is pledged to the Temple must be offered on the altar if it is fit for sacrifice — otherwise it must be “redeemed” for its value. If the owner chooses to redeem it, he must add one fifth of its value to the redemption price. The same rule applies to a house which is pledged to the Temple.
If donating the value of a boy between 5 and 20 years of age, for example, is equivalent to a pledge of 20 shekels, then why not just donate 20 shekels? What is the significance of labeling certain amounts as the “value” of a person? Because we psychologically relate much more strongly to our giving the value of person to the Beit HaMikdash than we would with a mere sum of money. This would be especially so if the person were yourself or a loved one. Modern fundraising psychology borrows this idea. Compare the emotional connection of contributing, $100 to a charitable cause, compared with the same $100 to “foster a child” or feed 5 orphans. Same amount, but the emotional response is quite different.