13 Aug Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat R’eih-Shabbat Rosh Chodesh 5775
This Shabbat we will be reading from two Torah scrolls, an occurrence that we will become accustomed to once the High Holiday season is upon us. From the first scroll we continue our reading of D’varim, Deuteronomy, by reading from Parashat R’eih and from the second we roll back to B’midbar, the book of Numbers, to read the special maftir reading for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a new month. On the occasions when Parashat R’eih is read on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh it creates an interesting confluence of events in which the weekly Torah reading includes readings about the Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, while the maftir aliyah covers paragraphs having to do with Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh. In fact, this particular combination of portions comes up three times every year even when Parashat R’eih is not Shabbat Rosh Chodesh because a section of R’eih is used as the Torah reading for the eighth day of Passover, the second day of Shavuot and on Shmini Atzeret and the maftir portions for those days are all from the same parasha in B’midbar where this week’s maftir aliyah comes from. It’s like the Torah’s version of déjà vu. But sometimes déjà vu can be a gift because it gives us a chance to practice for the real thing. Hopefully this Shabbat with its unusual, yet very usual, combination of Torah portions can serve as a practice run for us before the festival season so that when it does arrive we will be more than ready.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik