The Four Parshios


halfshekel[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times]

There are four special parshios that Chazal instituted to read in addition to the weekly Torah portion. They replace the regular maftir read after the seventh aliyah.

These four special maftirs are read beginning from before the month of Adar until the month of Nissan. These parshios assist us in developing the very special connection we have with Hakadosh Baruch Hu during these two months.

The first parashah of the four is parashas Shekalim. This parashah brings to mind the half shekel that the Jewish people brought in order to offer the korban tamid — the sacrifices brought daily in the Beis HaMikdash. It is proper to realize that term “sacrifice” is a mistranslation. The correct translation of “korban” is “a closifier” — or “something that brings one closer to Hashem.” It is brought down in the Sefoim HaKedoshim that the Tefilos that are recited on Shabbos Shkalim effect the Tefilos throughout the entire year. This is because the korbanos tzibbur of the entire year are purchased with the shekalim collected during this time. Since Tefilah replaces the Korbanos – this effects the Tefilos of the whole year as well.

The next parashah is parashas Zachor, which causes us to remember the actions of Amalek. It is a Torah mitzvah to recall his actions and to abhor them with a hate firmly situated in the heart. We read it during this time because Haman was a descendant of Amalek, and Hashem saved us from him.

If one did not hear parashas Zachor on this Shabbos, he may fulfill the mitzvah by listening to the Torah reading that is read on the morning of Purim which discusses Moshe Rabbeinu’s war with Amalek. However, he must specifically have in mind that he is fulfilling the mitzvah of parashas Zachor at this time. He must also request of the baal korei that he specifically have in mind to be motzi him – to be his agent to fulfill the Mitzvah. If either of these two requirements is not fulfilled, he has not fulfilled his mitzvah.

The third parashah is parashas Parah, which commemorates the parah adumah that was prepared in the desert after the Mishkan was erected so that the Korban Pesach could be eaten in purity. We read it now so that Hashem should throw this purifying water upon us as well, speedily in our days. Some say that it is a Torah mitzvah to read this parashah as it is part of the mitzvah to remember the sin of the egel hazahav.

The fourth parashah is parashas HaChodesh which is read to sanctify the month of Nissan. Nissan is the time when we both dedicated the Mishkan and when we became the Am Hashem.

The determination of when these parshios are read is dictated by the need for parashas Zachor to be read immediately before Purim and parashas HaChodesh to be read immediately prior to Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

The author can be reached at