This Shabbos, three distinctive special occasions coincide (besides it being the Shabbos Sheva Berachos of Avrohom Aharon Malinowitz).
First, it is the third of the seven special Shabbosos which follow Tisha b’Av (Shiva d’Nechamta – the seven of consolation). It also happens to be the first of the two days of Rosh Chodesh Elul. This confluence of events means that there are three different potential haftaros for this Shabbat:
- The special haftara for Shiva d’nechamta (Yeshaya 54:11-55:5);
- The special haftara for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (Yeshaya 66:1-24);
- The special haftara for when Rosh Chodesh falls on Sunday (Machar Chodesh – Shmuel I 20:18-42).
(Actually, there is a fourth: There used to be a minhag to read the haftara of sos assis (the haftara of Nitzavim ) on the Shabbos Sheva Berachos of a new chosson (if you look at the first few pesukim you will see why).
These three possibilities led to two different practices.
One option was to choose the third special haftara for after Tisha b’Av. The basis for this choice is found in the Tosofos (Megillah 31b s.v. Rosh) which notes that the custom was established in the Pesikta [d’Rav Kahana] to recite three haftaros of admonition before Tisha b’Av and seven haftaros of consolation after it followed by two of repentance. This custom, noted in Tosafos, in fact, records a custom already established from the time of the Talmud in Eretz Yisrael. This opinion was maintained among Sephardic authorities and is codified as the Sephardic position in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 425:1. The Sephardic tradition takes into account the other events of the day by having the haftarah reader read the first and last psukim of the special haftarah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh and the first and last psukim for the haftarah for when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Sunday (Would he read also the first and last passuk of sos assis?).
The Ashkenazic tradition diverges from this practice. Since the haftara for when Shabbos coincides with Rosh Chodesh occurs more than once a year, it takes precedence over the special haftara for the period after Tisha b’Av which occurs only once a year. This position was adopted by Rabbi Eliezer ben Yoel (Raviah – Germany 12-13th century) and later quoted in his name by Rabbi Yitzhak ben Moshe of Vienna (13th century), the author of the Or Zarua (2:392). Raviah also contends with problems created by this position. Since the haftaros during this period are supposed to offer comfort, he points out that the special haftara for Shabbat – Rosh Chodesh contains many passages and messages of comfort. [And sos assis is actually one of the shiva d’nechamta!) In addition, he notes that since in two weeks (Parshat Ki Tetzei) we read the section in Yeshaya which precedes what would have been this week’s haftara, it would be proper to combine the two haftaros on that Shabbat so that what was missed this week will be made up then. Raviah, however, basically ignores the special reading for when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Sunday. This position became the norm for Askenazic Jewry and was codified by the Rama as an addendum to the position cited above in the Shulchan Aruch.