3rd of Av, 5774
Parashat Devarim


Named Shabbatot

Special Shabbatot highlight upcoming Jewish festivals or holidays. They are highlighted in the services by a maftir (additional) service during Saturday morning.


Tishrei
Shabbat Shuva

Shabbat Shuva

Shabbat Shuva is the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It takes its name from the Haftara from Hoshea 14 which reads: “Shuva Yisrael – Return, O Israel, to HaShem your G-d.”

During these days we are obligated to do shuva, to repent. In fact, some people call this Shabbat T’shuva since it is the Shabbat of the Ten Days of Repentance. It is customary in all congregations for the Rabbi to give a sermon calling on the people to repent before Yom Kippur. He also reviews with them the laws of Yom Kippur.

Traditional Haftara readings: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27.


Adar
Shabbat Shekalim

Shabbat Shekalim

The Shabbat when we read the portion of “Beshalach” is called Shabbat Shira. This parasha contains the song the Jews sang (Shirat Hayam) when they crossed the Red Sea. The song begins with the words “Az Yashir Moshe”, and tells of Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen being flung into the raging sea and ends with “HaShem will reign forever more.”

Shabbat Shira (Shabbat Shirah) usually comes before Tu B’shvat, but sometimes Tu B’shvat falls on Shabbat. It is customary to scatter bread crumbs for the birds to commemorate the aggada (legend or story) in praise of them.

Traditional Haftara readings: The story of Deborah (Judges 4:4-5:31).


Adar
Shabbat Shera

Shabbat Shera

Shabbat Shekalim – Each year until the destruction of the second Temple, every Jew was obligated to give a half shekel in order to participate in the communal sacrifices. This coin gave everyone an equal share in the sacrifices. Thirty days before the first of Nissan, the day of the sacrifice, people were publicly reminded to bring their coin to the appointed treasurers. Today, we no longer have the Temple or its sacrifices but we read the portion of the Shekalim in the Torah (Shemot 30:11-16) as a remembrance.

Traditional Haftara readings: II Kings 12:1 – 12:17


Adar
Shabbat Zachor

Shabbat Zachor

On the Shabbat before Purim, we take out two Sifrei Torah. We read the weekly portion in the first and Parasha Zachor in the second: “Remember what Amalek did to you…” (Devarim 25:17-19).

What is the connection between erasing the memory of our Amalekite enemies and Purim?

The wicked Haman, who intended to destroy all the Jews in one day and claim their spoils, was descended from Agag, the king of Amalek in the time of King Saul. Thus we know that Haman was an Amalekite. “Remember,” our sages tell us, “do not forget!” Why? We are told to remember what the people of Amalek did to us when we first left Egypt, and not to forget what they tried to do to us during the reign of Ahashverosh (the time of the Purim story).

Traditional Haftara readings: I Samuel 15:2 – 15:34


Adar
Shabbat Para

Shabbat Para

Shabbat Para (Shabbat Parah) – On the Shabbat before Parashat Hachodesh (before the month of Nissan) we read about the Red Heifer, which is found in Bamidbar, Chapter 19.

In the time of Beit Hamikdash every person was obligated to bring a Korban Pesach (a Passover sacrifice) which was eaten on Pesach eve, the Seder night. But only people who were ritually pure could partake of this sacrifice. Therefore, right before the month of Nissan, it was publicly announced that whoever had become impure (by contact with a dead person) must purify himself, and certainly people must be careful not to become impure before Pesach itself.

Now that we have no Beit HaMikdash or no Pesach sacrifice, we read this portion in the Torah instead (just as our daily prayers are instead of daily sacrifices), and hope that we will speedily merit the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash and be able, once again, to bring the Pesach sacrifice in purity at its proper time.

Traditional Haftara readings: Ezekiel 36:16 – 36:38


Adar
Shabbat HaChodesh

Shabbat HaChodesh

On the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh Nissan, we read Parashat HaHodesh. “This month is for you the first of months…” (Shemot 12).

This reading is intended to remind us that Pesach is fast approaching.

The Haftara for this Shabbat is Ezekiel, chapter 45, which tells about the Rosh Chodesh Nissan sacrifices which were brought from and which will be again brought in the future, when the third Beit HaMikdash is built. The Haftara concludes with these words of consolation: “Like the flock of Jerusalem at her appointed times, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men” (36:38).

Traditional Haftara readings: Ezekiel 45:16-46:18


Nisan
Shabbat HaGadol

Shabbat HaGadol

The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol. On this Shabbat, the Jews were commanded to take a lamb which would serve as the Pesach sacrifice. On that first year, the tenth of Nissan happened to be on Shabbat. The egyptians asked the people why they were taking the lamb and they replied: to slaughter it for a Pesach sacrifice. Although the lamb was considered a deity by the Egyptians, they remained silent and did not harm the Jews.

On this Shabbat, we read the Haftara from Malachi, chapter 2: “And the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing unto HaShem.”

This chapter ends with the verse: “Lo! I am sending to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of HaShem.”

Traditional Haftara readings: Malachi 3:4-24


Nisan
Shabbat Chazon

Shabbat Chazon

The Shabbat before Tisha B’Av is called Shabbat Chazon because of the Haftara which is read: “Chazon Yeshayahu – the prophecy of Yeshayahu…”

In it, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple were prophesied by Isaiah.


Nisan
Shabbat Nachamu

Shabbat Nachamu

Shabbat Nachamu is the Shabbat after Tisha B’Av.

“Nachamu, Nachamu ami – be comforted, be comforted, my people…” (Yeshaya 40)

Why is the word Nachamu repeated?

To offer consolation for each of the Temples which were destroyed. In this chapter, Isaiah describes the Ultimate Redemption which we have yet to experience.