On special Shabbatot throughout the calendar year, marking holidays and occasions, the regular haftarah (and maftir) are superseded by special readings for the occasion, which relate to the themes of the time of year.
Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
When Shabbat coincides with Rosh Chodesh, a different haftarah is read: Yeshayahu 66:1-24, and the maftir is Bemidbar 28:9-15. The Shabbat immediately preceding Rosh Chodesh is called Shabbat Machar Chodesh and the haftarah is 1 Shemuel 20:18-42. The Shabbat before a week in which Rosh Chodesh falls is called Shabbat Mevarchim and Birkat ha-Chodesh is said.
Shabbat Shuvah occurs on the Shabbat of the Ten Days of Teshuvah, between Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. The haftarah, Shuva Yisrael, which begins with the word shuva (return), is a combination of verses: Hoshea 14:2-10; Micha 7:18-20; Yoel 2:15-27.
Shabbat Shira is the Shabbat on which parashat Beshalach, including the Song of the Sea (Shirat ha-Yam), is read. The haftarah is Shoftim 4:4-5:31, which includes the Song of Devorah.
The Four Parshiyot
The Four Parshiyyot are read leading up to Purim and Pesach:
- Shabbat Shekalim – The Shabbat before or on Rosh Chodesh Adar (Adar Bet in leap years). The special maftir comes from parashat Ki Tissa that describes the half-shekel tax, hence its name; the haftarah is 2 Melakhim 12:1-17.
- Shabbat Zachor – The Shabbat preceding Purim. The maftir comes from Ki Tetze, including the commandment to remember what Amalek did to Benei Yisrael, from which its name, Zachor (remember), is taken; the haftarah is 1 Shemuel 15:2-34.
- Shabbat Parah – The Shabbat before Shabbat ha-Chodesh (see immediately below). The maftir comes from Chukkat, in which the ritual of the parah adumah (red heifer) is described; the haftarah is Yechezkel 36:16-38.
- Shabbat ha-Chodesh – The Shabbat before on on the first of Nisan. The maftir comes from Bo, describing the first month of the year (Chodesh Nisan); the hatarah is Yechezkel 45:16-46:18.1
Shabbat ha-Gadol is the Shabbat before Pesach, during which it is traditional for the rabbi to deliver a special derash (sermon). The haftarah is Malakhi 3:4-24.
Shalosh Regalim and Chol ha-Moed
If Sukkot, Pesach, or Shavuot coincide with Shabbat, the readings are those for the holiday. On a Shabbat that falls on Chol ha-Moed Sukkot or Pesach, a special parashah and haftarah are read pertaining to the holiday:
- Shabbat Chol ha-Moed Sukkot: The Torah reading is Shemot 33:12- 34:26 and the haftarah is Yechezkel 38:18 – 39:16;2 Kohelet is also read with special trope before the Torah reading.
- Shabbat Chol ha-Moed Pesach: The Torah reading is a combination of Shemot 33:12 – 34:26 and Bemidbar 28:19 – 28:25 and the haftarah is Yechezkel 37:1-14. Shir ha-Shirim is also read with special trope before the Torah reading.
When Shabbat occurs during Chanukah, special haftarot are read: Zecharia 2:14-4:7, and if there is a second Shabbat during Chanukah (which would make it the 8th day), the haftarah is 1 Melakhim 17:40-50. Shabbat can only coincide with Purim in Jerusalem3, and when it does, it is Shabbat Zachor.
The Three of Rebuke – תלתא דפורענותא
The three Shabbatot preceding Tisha be-Av are known as the Telata de-Puranuta and have special haftarot pertaining to the somber mood of the Three Weeks. The last of these is Shabbat Chazon, which occurs on the Shabbat prior to Tisha be-Av.
- First of the three: Divrei Yirmiyahu, Yirmiyahu 1:1–2:3.
- Second of the three: Shim’u Devar Hashem, Yirmiyahu 2:4–28 followed by 4:1-2 or 3:4.
- Shabbat Chazon: Chazon Yeshayahu, Yeshayahu 1:1–27.
The Seven of Consolation- שבע דנחמתא
The seven Shabbatot after Tisha’ be-Av and leading up to Rosh ha-Shannah are known, for their special haftarot with the theme of consolation, as Sheva de-Nechamata. Together with the three previous “Shabbatot of Destruction” they make up a unit from the beginning of the Three Weeks until the new year.4 The first of these special Shabbatot is called Shabbat Nachamu. The haftarot are:
- Shabbat Nachamu: Nachamu, Nachamu Ami, Yeshayahu 40:1-26.
- Second: Va-Tomer Tziyon, Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3.
- Third: ‘Aniyah So’arah, Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5.
- Fourth: Anokhi, Anokhi, Yeshayahu 51:12-52:12.
- Fifth: Rani ‘Akarah, Yeshayahu 54:1-10.
- Sixth: Kumi Ori, Yeshayahu 60:1-22.
- Seventh: Sos Asis, Yeshayahu 61:10-63:9.
- Not to be confused with Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, on which we read a maftir, BeMidbar 28:9-15, describing the special Rosh Chodesh korbanot and a special haftarah, Yeshayahu 66:1-24. If one of the special Shabbatot, including Shabbat ha-Chodesh, also coincides with Rosh Chodesh, then these are also read, from a third scroll.
- The maftir depends upon which day of Chol ha-Mo’ed Shabbat falls out on, different verses of Bemidbar 29: if Shabbat falls on the first day of Chol ha-Moed, the maftir is Bemidbar 29:17-22; the second day, Bemidbar 29:20-25; the third, Bemidbar 29:23-28; or the fourth, Bemidbar 29:26-31.
- I.e., an official walled city, when it is observed a day later than elsewhere, or on the 15th of Adar
- Occasionally, the first or last of these will coincide with a Rosh Chodesh, and there are different opinions as to which haftarah is then said.