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Hukkat 5771

Haftarah Parshat Hukkat
Shabbat Rosh Hodesh
(Isaiah 66:1-24)
July 2, 2011
30 Sivan 5771

Rosh Hodesh (The new month) Tammuz is two days, which means that the first day of Rosh Hodesh (the 30th day of Sivan) falls on Shabbat and the first day of Tammuz falls on Sunday. This creates an interesting question regarding which haftarah to recite on Shabbat. Normally, when Shabbat coincides with Rosh Hodesh, we read a special haftarah for the occasion from the last chapter of Isaiah which was chosen since its penultimate verse mentions both Shabbat and Rosh Hodesh:\”And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, shall all flesh come to worship Me, said the Lord.\” (66:23) This Shabbat, however, since Shabbat also coincides with the day before Rosh Hodesh (since Sunday is also Rosh Hodesh), there is another possibility, since there is also a special haftarah from 1 Samuel for such an occasion, since that haftarah has a verse which mentions the day preceding Rosh Hodesh: \”And Jonathan said to him (David): Tomorrow is the new moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty.\” (1 Samuel 20:18) (See Megilah 31a; Shulchan Aruch Orach Hayim 425:1-2)

On this question, all authorities rule definitively that we read the haftarah from Isaiah on this Shabbat, but it appears that the answer to this question was not always clear. Rabbi Joseph Karo, the doyen of the Sephardic tradition, records a remnant of the debate: \”When Rosh Hodesh is two days, Shabbat and Sunday, there are those who want to say that since Sunday is primary (since it is the first day of the new month), one should say the haftarah from Samuel and not the haftarah from Isaiah, but my teacher Rabbi Isaac Sava, answered that since the Tur answered definitively that one reads the haftarah from Isaiah when Rosh Hodesh and Shabbat coincide even on Rosh Hodesh Elul which is always two days, it must be that way in this instance as well. It is the custom to read the first and last verse of the haftarah from Samuel after the finish of the Isaiah reading.\” (Abridged from Beit Yosef on the Tur Orah Hayim 425)

Rabbi Moshe Isserles, representing the Ashkenazi tradition records, that it is the custom to read only the haftarah from Isaiah. (Darchei Moshe on the Tur Orah Hayim 425) In his addendum to the Shulchan Aruch, he adds as the rationale that there are those who hold that it is improper to jump from one prophet to another. This is the custom adopted in most of our synagogues.

About This Commentary

This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in  Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva.  He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

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