by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon
Being that this Shabbos, erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, is the Yahrzeit of my father, Harav Meir a”h, and in addition to davening as the shliach tzibbur (cantor) I will have the maftir aliya, I chose to share with the readers of this column, something he told me concerning saying the maftir. I don’t know if this is a halachah (as I didn’t find it in sifrei halachah), or it is just the hergesh (feeling) of a Chossid, but to me it is the way a chossid guides his life. So while it is not a typical story, it is a thought to farbreng on; – and that is the purpose of this column.
The Avudraham and Levush explain that the custom of saying some pesukim from the Neviim or Kesuvim on Shabbos began in the days when Antiyuchis (of Chanukah) ruled over Eretz Yisroel and (amongst his other evil actions), declared it illegal to read publically the weekly Torah Parsha. In order to remind the populace of what the parsha was speaking about, the sages instituted that we say passages of the prophets that discuss a similar theme to what we would have been reading in the Torah.
Being that this was instituted, it remained in effect even after the Jews were victorious and expelled the Greek army and were then able to read the weekly Torah portion again in public. So then it became the haftara.
However, while the passages of the prophets are the words that Hashem told them, their holiness is not on the same level as the words of the Torah itself.
Based on this, my father told me; in order to differentiate between the two, we should not read the maftir in the same place that the Torah is read from. Rather, we should read it from the side of the Bimah. He continued, but you may ask, the Rebbe stands in the same place as the one that reads the Torah? The answer is, when the Rebbeim read it, it is as if they were saying that nevuah for the first time, since shechinah medaberes mitoich giroinum – the Shechina itself is speaking through their throats.
Authors note: This explains why in all communities the reading of the megillah on Purim is in the same place as the reading of the Torah, since the megillah is not being read in lieu of the Torah itself.
Since it is also the Shabbos of Kinus ha’shlucim, I would like to share a thought on the weekly parsha, which one of the readers of this column shared with me in honor of the shluchim. I am presenting it in their words. If you can forward to me some interesting stories for future weeks, I will greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
We know so little about Yitzchok and he is given much less space in the Torah in comparison to Avrohom or Yaakov (- Avrohom gets 3 parshiot: Lech Lecha, Vayeira, Chayei Sora; Yaakov gets a span of 6 parshiot: Vayetzeh all the way to Vayechi; while Yitzchok only gets Akeidas Yitzchok and Toldos and even that barely tells us much about him).
The little we know of Yitzchok stresses that he was a “true chossid” (dare I say “shaliach”) of Avrohom.
Whatever Avrohom did, he did, exactly like Avrohom.
He followed in his footsteps and conduct of his father/Rebbe.
Therefore he re-digs the exact same wells as Avrohom and gives them the exact same names. The Torah tells us this seemingly insignificant detail (who cares if it was new wells or restored wells from his father, and what does it matter their names?), because it shows that a chossid does what his Rebbe did.
When there is a famine, he goes to Avimelech – just as his father did.
He is told while in Gerar not to go to Egypt because he was planning to go there – just as Avrohom did.
Avrohom was spreading the name of Hashem: V’yikrah b’shaim Hashem, so did Yitzchok: Vayiven shom mizbeach vayikra b’shem Adoishem
He gives maasser – like his Father gave maaser to Malki Tzedek.
Even the blessings Hashem gives him, is in merit of his father/Rebbe: Eikeve asher shoma Avraham b’kolee vayishmor mitzvosai, chukosai, v’Torosai …Anochi Elokei Avraham Avicha al tira ki itcha anochi u’bairachticha v’hirbeisi es zaracha ba’avor Avraham avdee. – Because Avrohom listened in my voice and he kept My Commandments, decrees and teachings….I am the G-d of Avrohom, your father, do not fear, as I am with you, And I will bless you and multiply your descendants, because of my servant Avrohom.
He gets brochas because he is a chossid, and in merit of being a chossid to his Rebbe.
Yitzchok lived his life by always asking himself, “What would my father/Rebbe want me to do?”
That is Yitzchok, a true chossid.
May we all have tremendous hatzlacha in fulfilling our shlichus.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and author of numerous books. He is available to farbreng in your community in honor of Yud Tes Kislev and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 This is done in many circumstances, that once a custom began it remained in effect even after the reason no longer applied, Such as continuing to say atta choi’nantunoo in the Shemone Esreh on motzei Shabbos, even though we will say havdalah on a cup of wine.
However, in this case it was especially important to maintain the custom, since at that time the Kara’im were arguing that they only listen to the literal wording of the Torah and not the explanations of the sages and definitely not to the words of the prophets, so they continued saying in public passages of the prophets to demonstrate that they too are the words of Hashem.