# Configuring the "Arba Parshiyos" Puzzle

It is well known that during the current “*simchah* season” known as the joyous month(s) of Adar,[1] many changes were instituted to the normal weekly Torah readings, in the *Maftir* and *Haftarah*, each for their own purpose and reason.[2]

First up is *Parashas*
*Shekalim*, on the Shabbos before or of *Rosh*
*Chodosh*
*Adar* (*Sheini*), which commemorates the communal *mitzvah* of the giving the *Machtzis HaShekel*, used to pay for the daily *Korban Tamid* for the whole year.

Next is *Parashas*
*Zachor*, which is always read on the Shabbos before *Purim*, as it evokes and condemns the unprovoked attacks of the evil Amalek on *Klal*
*Yisrael*, paralleling and foreshadowing the genocidal plot of his wicked descendant, Haman, detailed in *Megillas Esther*, which is read on Purim.

Third is *Parashas*
*Parah*, on the third week of Adar, commemorating the *Parah*
*Adumah* (Red Heifer) used to purify *Klal*
*Yisrael* for the upcoming *Korban*
*Pesach*.

Lastly, on the Shabbos before or of *Rosh*
*Chodesh*
*Nisan*, is *Parashas*
*Hachodesh*, to properly honor the coming of the “First Month” that we were commanded in the Torah to observe, *Rosh*
*Chodesh*
*Nisan*.[3] These four changes to the *Maftir* and *Haftarah* are collectively known as the “*Arba Parshiyos*”.

The *Gemara* in *Megillah* (29a - 30b) devotes considerable attention to the details of the “*Arba Parshiyos*”, including how to compute the Jewish calendar’s nineteen-year-cycle[4] of which exact week will host which special reading. It seems a bit confusing, but luckily several of our great early authorities, including the *Rif*, *Rashi*, and the *Rosh*, give a simple mnemonic that allows anyone to figure out which week is which. This is especially practical for a *shul’s*
*gabbai* who has to arrange the *Sifrei*
*Torah* to the proper places on each of these weeks. In fact, this code is so useful that it is even cited as *halacha* by the *Tur* and *Shulchan*
*Aruch*.[5]

*ZAVD”U* - **זבד"ו - Unlocking the Code**

In our Jewish calendar, the second day of *Rosh*
*Chodesh*
*Adar*, meaning the first actual day of Adar, can only fall out on four days of the week - Shabbos, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In a leap year, such as ours - 5779 - these calculations and configurations apply exclusively to Adar Sheini, as it is considered the main Adar for these *inyanim*.[6]

This is due to the *Gemara*[7] concluding that all Purim-related observances, including the *Arba*
*Parshiyos*, are celebrated in Adar *Sheini*, in order that the *Geulah* from Haman on Purim and the *Geulah* from Egypt on *Pesach*, should be observed in consecutive months. In fact, the majority consensus is that if a boy was born in a non-leap year, one which there was only one Adar, and on the year of his Bar Mitzvah there are two Adars, his Bar Mitzvah will occur in the second Adar, since it is considered the true one.[8]

**Double Codes **

Back to explaining the code. The mnemonic for these days that *Rosh*
*Chodesh* Adar can occur on is *ZAVD”U*. This stands for *Zayin*, the seventh day of the week - Shabbos, *Beis* stands for the second day of the week - Monday, *Dalet* refers to the fourth day of the week - Wednesday, and *Vav* the sixth day of the week – Friday.[9]

The *Rishonim* teach us that each of these letters stands for an additional code: *ZAT”U*, *B”O*, *DA”D*, *U”BIV* (or *U”BYU*); and knowing their meanings will help us calculate which week each of the *Parshiyos* will fall out on. The **first** letter of each of these codes refers to which day of the week *Rosh*
*Chodesh*
*Adar* falls out on, and the **remaining** letters refer to which day(s) of the week during the month is a “skip week”, with no special reading.

*ZAT”U* – **ז"טו**

*ZAT”U* refers to when *Rosh Chodesh Adar* falls out on a Shabbos (“*Zayin*”, the seventh day of the week), then that day itself - Shabbos (the first week), *Parashas*
*Shekalim* is read, the subsequent Shabbos is *Parashas*
*Zachor*, the next Shabbos - “*TU*” or the fifteenth of Adar - is a “skip week” with no exceptional attributes,[10] the following Shabbos is *Parashas*
*Parah*, and the last one is *Parashas*
*Hachodesh*. This breakdown of the code applies for all the rest as well.

*B”O* – **ב"ו**

*B”O* refers to when *Rosh Chodesh Adar* falls out on a Monday (“*Beis*”, the second day of the week). Then, the preceding Shabbos is *Parashas Shekalim*, that week (with Shabbos being the sixth day of Adar - “*O*” or “*Vav*”) is a skip week, and the remaining weeks are all special reading weeks consecutively: *Zachor*, then *Parah*, and followed by *Hachodesh*.

*DA”D* – **ד"ד**

*DA”D* is similar to *B”O*, with *Rosh*
*Chodesh*
*Adar* falling out on a Wednesday (“*Dalet*”, the fourth day of the week), with *Parashas*
*Shekalim* being the preceding week, that Shabbos (the fourth of Adar - “*Dalet*”) being a skip week, and all remaining weeks are consecutive special reading weeks as well.

*U”BIV* (or *U”BYU*) -**וב"יו**

*U”BIV*, (or *U”BYU*)is a bit more complicated, with two skip weeks. This occurs when *Rosh Chodesh Adar* falls out on Friday (“*U*” or “*Vav*”, the sixth day of the week). The preceding Shabbos is *Parashas Shekalim* and the day immediately following *Rosh*
*Chodesh* (the second of Adar - “*Beis*”), which is Shabbos, is a skip week. The next week is *Parashas Zachor*, and the following (on the sixteenth of Adar - “*IV*”, “*Yud-Vav*”) is another skip week. The remaining subsequent weeks are *Parah* and *Hachodesh*, respectively.

One may realize that this is actually this year’s (5779 / 2019) Adar code, containing the two skip weeks. Hence, this year, it turns out that *Parashas Vayakhel* is *Parashas*
*Shekalim*, *Parashas*
*Pekudei* is a skip week, *Vayikra* is *Parashas*
*Zachor*, *Tzav*, following on the heels of Purim, is a skip week, *Shemini* is *Parashas*
*Parah*, and *Tazria* is *Parashas*
*Hachodesh*.[11]

The *Gemara* in Shabbos (75a) stresses the importance of knowing the calculations of our calendar, with many *Rishonim* understanding that there is a specific *mitzvah* to do so.[12] The *Chazon Ish*[13] explicitly mentions the calculations of the Lunar month as a prime example of this. Although for many, making calendarical calculations seems to be out of the realm of expertise, thankfully our great *Rishonim* have led the way, enabling even the layman to utilize Hashem’s tools to at least configure the *Arba Parshiyos* puzzle.

*This article was written L’Iluy Nishmas R’ Chaim Baruch Yehuda ben Dovid Tzvi, L’Refuah Sheleimah for R’ Shlomo Yoel ben Chaya Leah, Shoshana Leah bas Dreiza Liba, Mordechai ben Sarah, and Shayna bas Feiga, and l’zechus Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah!*

**Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Sho’el U' Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. He also writes a contemporary halacha column titled ‘Insights Into Halacha’. For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author: [email protected].**

[1] “*Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simchah*” (*Gemara*
*Taanis* 29a).

[2] See at length *Gemara*
*Megillah* 29a - 30b. For a brief summary of the *Gemara’s* conclusion see *Mishnah*
*Berurah* (685: 1).

[3] “*Hachodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim*, *Rishon Hu Lachem Lechadshei Hashana*” (*Parashas Bo*, *Shemos* Ch. 12: 2). Everyone knows the famous *Rashi* on the very first *pasuk* of the Torah citing Rabbi Yitzchak [see *Sifsei Chachamim* and the *Taz’s*
*Divrei Dovid* ad loc. as to the identity of this Rabbi Yitzchak, whether *Rashi’s* father or the *Amora*; see also *Bereishis*
*Rabba* Ch. 1: 2 and *Midrash*
*Tanchuma*
*Hayashan*, *Bereishis* 11], that the Torah could have started with this *pasuk*, as it was the very first *Mitzvah* given to *Klal*
*Yisrael* as a nation.

[4] Our set calendar was established millennia ago by Hillel II.

[5]
*Rif* (*Megillah* 10b), *Rashi* (*Megillah* 30b s.v. *v’ee*), *Rosh* (*Megillah* Ch. 4, 10, end s.v. *Yerushalmi*), *Tur* and *Shulchan*
*Aruch* (*Orach Chaim* 685: 6).

[6] There are other *inyanim* where *Adar Rishon* is considered the main Adar; this was addressed fully in a previous article titled ‘Tale of Two Adars: Computations and Complications’.

[7]
*Gemara Megillah* 6b. See also *Terumas Hadeshen* (vol. 1: 294).

[8] See *Rema* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 55: 10; based on *Shu”t Mahari Mintz* 15), *Levush* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 685: 1), *Magen*
*Avraham* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 55: 10), *Pri*
*Chodosh* (ad loc. 10), *Pri*
*Megadim* (ad loc. *Eshel*
*Avrohom* 10), *Levushei*
*Srad* (ad loc. s.v. *eino*), *Korban*
*Ha’eida* (*Yerushalmi*
*Megillah* Ch. 1, *Shiyarei*
*Hakorban* s.v. *hada*), *Shaarei Teshuvah* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 55: 11), *Kitzur*
*Shulchan*
*Aruch* (15: 2), *Aruch*
*Hashulchan* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 55: 14), *Mishnah*
*Berurah* (ad loc. 45), and *Kaf*
*Hachaim* (ad loc. 59); not like the *Maharash*
*Halevi* (*Shu”t Orach Chaim *16), who is of the opinion that Adar Sheini is only considered the true Adar for Purim related issues, exclusive of Bar Mitzvahs. However, this might not hold true for observing *yahrtzeits*, as this is a *machlokes* between the *Shulchan*
*Aruch* and *Rema* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 568: 7), as explained by the *Mishnah*
*Berurah* (ad loc. 41), as to which Adar is *ikar* for this, with several authorities maintaining that it is preferable for a *yahrtzeit* to be observed in both Adars. See also *Shu”t Igros Moshe* (*Yoreh*
*Deah* vol. 3: 160) who concludes that even regarding *yahrtzeits* the essential Adar is Adar Sheini. Other issues of dispute include *Shtaros*, *Gittin*, and *Nedarim*. This topic was elucidated at length in a previous article titled ‘Tale of Two Adars: Computations and Complications’.

[9] This is basic *Gematria*. Each of the letters of the Hebrew *Aleph*-*Beis* has an equivalent numerical value. For example, *Aleph* equals one, *Beis* equals two, *Dalet* equals four, *Vav* equals six, *Zayin* equals seven, etc. Hence, *Beis*, which equals two, refers to the second day of the week, Monday. *Dalet*, which equals four, refers to the fourth day of the week, Wednesday, etc.

[10] Except of course for those fortunate enough to live in Yerushalayim (or other walled cities from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun), for that skip week is actually *Purim*
*Meshulash*, a rare three-day Purim extravaganza, with the different *mitzvos* of Purim applying separately on Friday, Shabbos, and Sunday.

[11] This year, *Metzorah* then becomes *Shabbos*
*Hagadol*, which is always the Shabbos immediately preceding Pesach, an honor which usually is reserved for *Parashas Tzav* (in a standard, non-leap year). According to the *Abudraham* (*Seder HaParshiyos*, pg. 372), and cited *lemaaseh* by the *Levush* (*Orach Chaim* 428: 4) and *Elyah Rabbah* (ad loc. 5), the reason why *Parashas Tzav* generally falls out on *Shabbos Hagadol*, is that it mentions the *halachos* of *Kashering Keilim* (*Vayikra* Ch. 6: 21), albeit regarding the *Korban Chata*’*as*, as ‘*haga’alas keilim chometz lamud m’Korbanos*’. Although in a leap year (such as ours) *Parashas Metzora* is usually read directly before Pesach, it is also in sync, as it mentions ‘*kli cheres yishaver*’, which is quite apropos for Pesach as well.

[12] They are divided though, whether it is a *Mitzvah Deoraysa* or *Derabbanan*. The *BeHa”G* (*Mitzvos*
*Kum*
*Asei* 75), *SMa”G* (*Asein* 47), *SMa”K* (*Mitzva* 103; however, he holds that this is part of the *Mitzva* of *Kiddush*
*HaChodesh*) and the *Sefer*
*Yereim* (*Mitzvah* 60), count this as a *Mitzva*
*Deoraysa*, while the *Rambam* in his *Sefer*
*HaMitzvos* (*Shoresh*
*HaRishon*) and the *Ramban* (*Hasagos* ad loc.) write explicitly that they are are of the opinion that it is *Derabbanan*.

[13] The *Chazon*
*Ish* (*Orach*
*Chaim* 138: 4) writes that knowing the calculations for the Lunar month is considered Torah.See also Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s introduction to his *Shekel HaKodesh*, where he recounts the importance and reverence the *Chazon Ish* held of calculating the months, and how he even would consider his mathematical calculations as needing *geniza*. See Rav Yisroel Reisman’s excellent “*Pathways*
*of*
*the*
*Prophets*” (pg. 272 – 311), who expounds upon and elucidates practical examples of understanding calendar calculations at length.

**Disclaimer**: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

*L'iluy Nishmas* the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel *ben* R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya *ben* R' Boruch Yehuda.