Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Which takes precedence?

It was probably around two decades ago that I found myself involved in a machloket (disagreement on a point of halachah/Jewish law) with a then-rabbinical student (long since ordained) hired by my former synagogue to lead Shabbat/Sabbat morning services while the rabbi and cantor were on vacation. That year, a Rosh Chodesh (New Moon, or, roughly, the first day of a new month) fell on a Shabbat on which one of the Haftarot of Consolation was to be chanted. The rabbinical student insisted that we chant Haftarat Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (the reading from the prophets that’s chanted when a Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat), but I insisted that the minhag/custom of our synagogue was to chant the Haftarah of Consolation that would normally be chanted on that Shabbat. Much to my dismay, the rabbinical student pulled rank on me, reminding me that he was the Mara D’Atra (roughly, Master of the Place, meaning the one authorized to make halachic decisions). (Grumble.)

Twenty years later, I still think he was wrong, but I think I understand the principle on which he based his decision: I understand that, under many circumstances, an action performed on a regular basis takes precedence over an action performed on a less regular basis. (I’m sure I’ve heard a good Hebrew term for this, but Ms. Middle-Aged-and-Memory-Challenged can’t think of it, of course. Please remind me.) For example, one puts on a tallit (prayer shawl) before putting on t’fillin, even though it’s a pain in the neck to have to keep pulling the tallit back onto to one’s shoulders, because a person who wears t’fillin wears them for weekday morning services only, whereas a person who wears a tallit wears it at every morning service, including Shabbotot/Sabbaths and Shalosh R’galim/Pilgrimage Festivals. Here’s another example: Recently, when Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, for which one reads from an extra Torah scroll, fell on Shabbat Shekalim, for which one also reads from an extra Torah scroll, we did the regular weekly reading first, then the reading for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, then the reading for Shabbat Shekalim.

But I don’t think this applies to the Haftarot of Consolation for one simple reason—in the case of a haftarah reading, it’s one or the other. (I have heard that. in some congregations both haftarot are chanted, but that’s not the minhag/custom of any congregation to which I’d ever belonged.) So I still think that a Haftarah of Consolation takes precedence over Haftarat Rosh Chodesh.

I would appreciate your comments. I extend a particular invitation to members of the G-d Squad (rabbis, rabbinical students, cantors and cantorial students).


Blogger rivkayael said...

I think the halacha is that the haftarah reading follows that of the last maftir. So if the maftir for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh is read, the haftarah is that of Shabbat Rosh Chodesh. This happened on Rosh Chodesh Adar this year when we had Shabbat Parah (?) and Rosh Chodesh Adar falling on the same day. We had three sifrei Torah out, but the last reading was from the Rosh Chodesh maftir. We read the Rosh Chodesh haftarah (if I remember correctly).

Wed Apr 09, 03:11:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to "Rite And Reason: 1050 Jewish Customs And Their Sources"
by Shmuel Pinchas Gelbard (found online at,M1), the Shulchan Aruch says to read the haftara of consolation but the Rema says to read the haftara of Rosh Chodesh.

Presumably an Ashkenazi congregation would follow the Rema.

You're right about frequent/infrequent and whether you can do one before the other or you have to do just one, but the Rema's reason, according to Gelbard is that the Haftara of Rosh Chodesh includes words of consolation, so it accomplishes both functions.

Wed Apr 09, 04:16:00 PM 2008  
Blogger elf's DH said...

IANAR, but I have a good gabbai guide.

Parhsat re'ei can fall on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh or when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday.

When it is Rosh Chodesh, you read haftarah for Rosh Chodesh. When it is machar chodesh (as it is this year), you read the regular haftarah (Isa 54:11-55:5). [incidentally, this is an error in Hebcal, if you use that.]

So, how do you make up for the extra haftarah? The haftarah for parshat Ki Teitzeh is Isa. 54:1-54:10. If parshat re'ei came out on Rosh Chodesh, you read Isa. 54:1-55:5 (haftarat Noach), which encompasses the missing haftarah!

Wed Apr 09, 04:21:00 PM 2008  
Blogger elf's DH said...

Caveat to above: said is the minhag of (at least one of) my congregation(s), which usually follows minhag Ashkenaz. As warren points out, it is not necessarily universal.

Wed Apr 09, 04:24:00 PM 2008  
Blogger elf's DH said...

and one more correction -- normal Haftarat Reei may end at 54:17, depending on minhag.

Wed Apr 09, 04:30:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Answer and question, just to be different :) :

Warren, here's how to create a link in a comment:

[A HREF="put the link here"]put the text here, whatever you want the reader to click on[/A]

For every [, substitute an <.
For every ], substitute an >.

ELF's DH, pardon my ignorance, but what doth IANAR mean in English that a 59-year-old can understand? :)

Wed Apr 09, 05:17:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"If parshat re'ei came out on Rosh Chodesh, you read Isa. 54:1-55:5 (haftarat Noach), which encompasses the missing haftarah!"

Oh, is *that* the method! Thanks for the info, ELF's DH!

For the record, if I'd realized that there was a way to make up for the skipped haftarah at a later point but still before Rosh HaShanah, still during the Seven Weeks of Consolation, I wouldn't have objected to doing Haftarat Rosh Chodesh. Either the student rabbi didn't explain it to me or I didn't yet know enough for his explanation to "register."

ELF's DH, you may be amused to know that that's why I learned Haftarat Noach--I finally realized that, knowing Haftarat Ki Tzetze, I already knew half of Haftarat Noach, and figured that I might as well learn the other half. At what point I realized that the aforementioned "other half" also constituted Haftarat Re'ei, I don't remember, but I ended up learning three haftarot for the "price" of two. Such a metziah/bargain. :)

Wed Apr 09, 05:27:00 PM 2008  
Blogger elf's DH said...

IANAR = I am not a rabbi

Wed Apr 09, 09:03:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ah, there's *Jewish* Instant Messaging lingo. :)

Wed Apr 09, 10:35:00 PM 2008  
Blogger elf's DH said...

Its origins predate widespread use of instant messaging. The disclaimer IANAL (I am not a lawyer) was used on Usenet newsgroups [and is still used on forums, listservs, and in Usenet]as a disclaimer when giving what might be construed as legal advice. Wikipedia says it was first used in the 1980's. IANAR is a "slowclone" of that, used as a disclaimer for what might be considered halachic advice. The earliest occurrence I can find (from very limited searching) is a 1996 posting on soc.culture.jewish.

Thu Apr 10, 11:37:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

1996??! I'm behind the times, as usual. [Insert roll-eyes emoticon here].

Thu Apr 10, 04:05:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The phrase is: "Tadir V’sheino Tadir, Tadir Kodem."

"Frequent and not frequent, frequent comes first."

Sun Apr 13, 09:44:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ah, so that's the Hebrew term. Thanks, Ten Jew

Sun Apr 13, 11:26:00 PM 2008  

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