This week sees the rare spectacle of three Siphrei Torah being read from. This is because it is Shabbat (1) and Rosh Chodesh (2) and the last of the four special shabbatot – Shabbat Hachodesh (3).
The order in which is read the Siphrei Torah is determined by the rule “Tadir vesheino Tadir –Tadir Kodem” (the most regular reading takes precedence). This rule is articulated in the Talmud (Megillah 29a) when it discusses another occasion when three Siphrei Torah are read namely when Shabbat (1) and Rosh Chodesh (2) and Hanukkah (3) coincide.
So why does “Tadir vesheino Tadir –Tadir Kodem” not apply to the Haphtarah? If it did we would read the Haphtarah of Sidra Tazrea. A glib erroneous answer might be that the Haphtarah of Sidra Tazrea is only read in 7 leap years of the 19 years of the lunar cycle.
Halacha, while somewhat rigid has to be flexible to deal with competing interests. Contesting concerns often happen in communal life. For example if there are only a congregation of nine men and there is a man on security outside-does the safety of those assembled has priority over the need for a quorum?
A posek (a halachic decision maker) has to make a “call” and it will depend on the subjectivities. For example, whether there is a high alert and/or the easiness of calling out another person. The Rabbi of the community takes this role on so it is absolutely imperative the he is aware of the local subjectivities-the place where the community is- the lens through which the majority of the community see matters, and not resort to book learning or worst defer to another Rabbi who has no experience of the particular community in question.
Once one implements the Tadir then the rule that the Haphtarah is the one connected to the last reading (Maphtir) takes over as the guiding principle for the choice of Haphtarah. It is for this reason we read the Haphtarah of Shabbat Hachodesh, today.