The Haftarah for Pinchas

This week is the
next to last week that the Eretz Yisroel community and the chutz
community are still reading different parshios, still due to the fact that acharon
shel Pesach
fell on Shabbos. This means that in Eretz Yisroel the
for Parshas Pinchas is not one of the three read
during the three weeks.

In most years, Parshas
Pinchas falls during the three weeks and, as a result, its haftarah
is Divrei Yirmiyahu, the opening words of the book of Yirmiyahu,
which is the first of the telasa deparanusa, the three special haftaros
we read during the “Three Weeks” of our national mourning (Rishonim
quoting Pesikta). This haftarah is usually printed in the chumashim
as the haftarah for Parshas Matos.

Since in Eretz
this is one of the fairly rare years when Parshas Pinchas
is read before the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz, there the haftarah
printed in the chumashim for Parshas Pinchas is read. The haftarah,
which is from the book of Melachim and begins with the words Ve’yad
describes how Eliyahu admonishes the wicked monarchs Achav and
Izevel. Since the Torah reading and the haftarah reading respectively mention
the attributes of zeal demonstrated by Pinchas and Eliyahu, this haftarah
is very appropriate for this Shabbos. Furthermore, the Midrash (Pirkei
D’Rabbi Eliezer
, end of Chapter 29; Midrash Rabbah on this week’s
) states that Pinchas was Eliyahu, thus providing another reason to
read this haftarah on this Shabbos.

It is actually
unclear whether the Midrash means that Pinchas and Eliyahu were the same
person, particularly since other sources in Chazal identify Eliyahu as
being either from the tribe of Binyomin or of Gad (Bereishis Rabbah 71:9),
both of which are impossible if Eliyahu was Pinchas, who was a kohen.
The Gemara may simply mean that Eliyahu exhibited the same personality
traits as Pinchas, since both displayed tremendous zeal in upholding Hashem’s

The haftarah
quotes Eliyahu as saying to Hashem: Kano kineisi laHashem Elokei Tzeva’os ki
azvu berischa bnei Yisrael
, I have acted zealously on behalf of Hashem the
G-d of Hosts, for the Children of Israel have forsaken your covenant (Melachim
1:19:10), an allegation Eliyahu soon repeats (ibid. Verse 14). According to the
Midrash, Eliyahu accused Bnei Yisrael of abrogating bris milah.
As a response, Hashem decreed that Eliyahu will be present at every bris
to see that the Jews indeed fulfill this mitzvah. Chazal therefore
instituted that there should be a seat of honor for Eliyahu at every bris
(Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, end of Chapter 29; Zohar 93a).

Indeed, Jews
view the mitzvah of bris milah dearly, and have accepted to
observe this mitzvah in extremely difficult circumstances. Since the mitzvah of
milah is so dear, we celebrate it as a happy occasion even during the
three weeks and the nine days, periods of time in which we otherwise are
accustomed to mourn. For this reason, the mohel, sandek, and
parents of the baby may shave or get a haircut in honor of the bris, and
during the Nine Days we serve meat meals in honor of the occasion.

We should also remember that Eliyahu is not only the malach habris,
the angel who attends the bris, but also represents Pinchas, the bringer
and angel of peace.

Since the
discussion for haftarah of Pinchas is fairly short, I am adding another
short article about a different, anomalous kerias haTorah situation:

How can
this happen?

Kwiz Kwestion:

Someone received
revi’i, the fourth aliyah, Shabbos morning, and, later that day,
received back-to-back aliyos?

This question is
not at all theoretical. I actually experienced it once. How did this happen?

Explaining the
question fully provides a bit of a hint at the answer. Ordinarily, the only
time someone receives back-to-back aliyos is when there is no levi
in shul, in which case the kohen who receives the first aliyah
also receives the second aliyah, that usually reserved for a levi.
A kohen receives the aliyah because kohanim are members of
the tribe of levi, and the same kohen receives the aliyah,
rather than spreading the wealth around by giving a different kohen the
second aliyah because of a rule ein kor’in lekohen achar kohen
“We do not call up two consecutive kohanim.” Chazal ruled that
this is prohibited because of concern that someone will think that, after
calling up the first kohen, they discovered a halachic problem
with his status and therefore needed to call up a different kohen (Gittin

Now, as a kohen
I can tell you that it is a very common occurrence that I receive back-to-back aliyos,
one as a kohen and the other bimkom levi. But how did I manage to
get revi’i without the gabbai making an error? A kohen
always receives either the first aliyah of the Torah, maftir, or
. Now, since revi’i is never maftir or acharon,
how could a kohen ever receive the aliyah of revi’i?

One Shabbos I
attended a family bar mitzvah, where the minyan was only family
members. Not only am I a kohen, but so are all my brothers and sons, as
well as my nephew, the bachur habar mitzvah. Virtually everyone else in
attendance at the minyan made in honor of the bar mitzvah was a kohen.
The only non-kohanim in attendance were the bachur’s maternal
grandfather, who is a yisroel, and a family friend who is a levi.
Thus, the first three aliyos were: a kohen (one of the family
members), the levi guest and the maternal grandfather, who received shelishi.

Now is where the
fun starts. All other attendees at the minyan were kohanim, and
yet we have four more aliyos, plus maftir to give out! What is a gabbai
supposed to do?

this question is discussed by the rishonim, with a wide variety of
answers. The Beis Yosef cites four opinions what to do for the four
remaining aliyos.

1. Call up the
same three people who were called up as kohen, levi, and shelishi,
as revi’i, chamishi and shishi, and then call up the
original kohen for a third time as shevi’i.

2. The yisroel
who was called up as shelishi should be called up again for revi’i,
chamishi, shishi, and shevi’i since he is the only yisroel
in the house.

3. Call up
children for the remaining four aliyos.

4. Call up
different kohanim for the remaining four aliyos.

What are the
reasons behind each of these approaches?

1. Call up
the same three people again

Although Chazal
required that we call up seven people for aliyos on Shabbos, nowhere does
it say that one may not call up the same person twice. As we see from the case
when the kohen receives the aliyah of the levi, someone
can be called up twice and count as two people receiving aliyos. Thus,
our best way to resolve this situation is to call up the same three people
again, which avoids calling up two kohanim one after the other. We also
avoid calling up a kohen for an aliyah that implies that he is
not a kohen, except for the one kohen who already was called up
as kohen. Thus, no one should make a mistake that a kohen has any
problem with his pedigree.

2. Call the
yisroel for five consecutive aliyos

At the time of
the Mishnah and Gemara, there was no assigned baal keriyah,
and the person who received the aliyah was expected to read for himself.
The institution of an assigned baal keriyah began in the time of the rishonim,
when it became a common problem that someone called up for an aliyah was
unable to read the Torah correctly, thus calling into question whether the
community fulfilled the mitzvah of kerias haTorah.

However, even
during the days of the Mishnah it occasionally happened that a minyan
of Jews did not include seven people who could read the Torah correctly. The Tosefta,
a source dating back to the era of the Mishnah but not included in the Mishnah,
discusses a case in which there is only one person in the minyan who is
capable of reading the Torah. What do we do? The Tosefta (Megillah 3:5)
rules that we call this person up to the Torah seven consecutive times in order
to fulfill the mitzvah of seven aliyos.

Based on this Tosefta,
some explain that since we cannot call up two kohanim one after the
other, when we have only one Yisroel in attendance, we call him to the
Torah for all the yisroel aliyos (Beis Yosef, based on his
understanding of the Mordechai).

3. Call up

Our practice is
that we do not call a child up to the Torah because it is not a sign of respect
that a child read the Torah for a community (see Megillah 23a). From
this comment, we see that, other than this concern, a child may have an aliyah,
even though he is underage to fulfill a mitzvah.

Therefore, Rabbeinu
rules that, in the situation at hand, we should call up children
for the remaining aliyos. Apparently, he considers this to be a better
solution than calling up someone who has already received an aliyah. The
only time we can give someone two aliyos is to a kohen when there
is no levi in shul. Therefore, our only alternative is to suspend
the community honor and call up children for the missing aliyos.

If there are no
children in attendance, Rabbeinu Yeruchem rules that we cannot continue
the reading of the Torah!

4. Call up
consecutive kohanim

All the
approaches we have quoted thus far contend that there is never any exception to
the rule that one may not call up two kohanim consecutively. However,
there are rishonim who dispute this assumption, contending that, when it
is obvious to all attendees that the reason you called two kohanim
consecutively was because there were no other alternatives, there is no concern
that someone will think one of the kohanim has a yichus problem,
and therefore Chazal were not gozeir.

The Rashba
contends that when everyone in attendance realizes that there are only kohanim
in the minyan, we simply call up consecutive kohanim. There is no
concern not to call one kohen after another in this instance.

The Shulchan
concludes that the halacha follows the Rashba, and, to
the best of my knowledge, this approach is accepted by all late halachic
authorities. Thus, we now have answered our opening conundrum: How did I
receive revi’i, the fourth aliyah, on Shabbos morning, and, later
that day, receive back-to-back aliyos?