God tells Moses to count the nation, but not directly, via a half shekel coin.

Rashi explains that God showed Moses a coin of fire and told him, "This is what they should give" (Shemos 30:13).

Why use fire?

One reason given is that like money, fire has the power to be either beneficial or destructive – it depends on how it is used. Spend it well, it can bring goodness to the world. Spend it badly and it can destroy. God was showing Moses that money too can in fact be sanctified if given for the sake of a good deed. (Oznaim LaTorah)

This concept can be applied to many areas of our lives. How do we use the gifts that we have been granted?

This idea is explained beautifully in the following excerpt from the poem "What God won’t ask":

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove,
He’ll ask how many people you drove who did not have transportation.

God won’t ask the square footage of your house,
He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet,
He’ll ask how many people you helped to clothe.

God won’t ask what your job title was,
He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

(Author unknown)

Everything can be used for the good or for the bad. Choose wisely.