The Four Special Torah Readings
1. [Our Rabbis ordained that four different passages from the Torah should
each be read on specific Sabbaths in addition to the regular weekly Torah
readings, each passage having themes which relate to the months of Adar and
Nissan.] On the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh Adar, [in a leap year, this
refers to the second month of Adar] which is followed by Nissan, we read
Parashas Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16), [the reading which describes the
donation of the half-shekel ("machtzit HaShekel"] (1).
If Rosh Chodesh [Adar] falls on Shabbos, that would be Shabbos Shekalim
[that is, we would read Parashas Shekalim on that Shabbos]. In that
instance, three Torah scrolls should be taken out [of the ark]. Six people
are called up for the reading of the weekly portion ("Parshas HaShavua")
from the first scroll. The seventh person is called up for the reading of
the Rosh Chodesh passage from the second scroll; we begin the Rosh Chodesh
passage from the words, "Uv'yom haShabbos" (see Chapter 78:1, and Chapter
79:1). The half-kaddish is then recited and then Parashas Shekalim is read
from the third scroll.
[The Rabbis ordained that a special] Haftorah be recited on Shabbos
Shekalim [II Kings 11:17] (As is the case on the other three Sabbaths on
which we have additional special readings during Adar and Nissan).
If a mistake was made in the order of the Torah readings, and Parashas
Shekalim was read before the Rosh Chodesh reading, the reading need not be
interrupted. Instead, the Maftir should be the Rosh Chodesh reading. In
such an instance, the Haftorah usually recited when Rosh Chodesh falls on
Shabbos, should be read.
(1) While the Beit Hamikdash ("Temple") stood, each person had an
obligation to donate a half shekel every year to the Beit Hamikdash. The
donations were used to purchase the animals for the communal sacrifices.
From Rosh Chodesh Nissan onwards, all the communal sacrifices had to be
purchased using money collected that year. Therefore, one month before, on
Rosh Chodesh Adar, announcements would be made to remind people to donate
the half-shekel, so that animals could be purchased with the "new" money
before Nissan. The reading of Parashas Shekalim just before (or on) Rosh
Chodesh Adar serves as a reminder of that mitzvah.