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worth and use of prutahs in Temple period

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 17, 5775
Question
What is the Jewish worth of 2 prutahs? What could be bought with 2 prutahs in the time of the second Temple? Do the prutahs put in the trumpet shaped chests in the Temple have any connection with acquiring some kind of meat offerings or what?
Answer
One prutah coin (worth about .025 gram of pure silver) could buy lamps and wicks, an etrog for Sukkot, or a pomegranate (Meila 6, 3-4), and it was the smallest common coin (8 prutahs in an issar; 32 prutas in a ma’ah; 192 prutahs in a zuz (or dinar). It took about 200 zuz (or 38,400 prutahs) to support one adult for a year, so a prutah is pretty small, and multiply that by 2! People would put prutahs (sometimes voluntarily and sometimes obligatory) in one of the 13 “shofarot” (trumpet shaped), where each one was marked for a specific designation for use of that money (e.g. for particular offerings, the upkeep of the Temple, etc.)
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