The haftarah or (in Ashkenazic pronunciation) haftoroh (alt. haphtara, Hebrew: הפטרה; "parting," "taking leave", plural haftarot or haftoros—despite resemblances it is not related to the word Torah) is a series of selections from the books of Nevi'im ("Prophets") of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) that is publicly read in synagogue as part of Jewish religious practice. The Haftarah reading follows the Torah reading on each Sabbath and on Jewish festivals and fast days. Typically, the haftarah is thematically linked to the parasha (Torah portion) that precedes it. The haftarah is sung in a chant (known as "trope" in Yiddish or "Cantillation" in English). Related blessings precede and follow the Haftarah reading.
- Who reads the haftarah
- What form of the text is read
- Haftarah blessings and customs
- Haftarah cantillation
- Haftarot on Sabbath afternoon
- Haftarah as a B'nai Mitzvah ritual
- List of Haftarot
- Haftarot for Genesis
- Haftarot for Exodus
- Haftarot for Leviticus
- Haftarot for Numbers
- Haftarot for Deuteronomy
- Haftarot for special Sabbaths, Festivals, and Fast Days
- Haftarah for a bridegroom
The origin of haftarah reading is lost to history, and several theories have been proposed to explain its role in Jewish practice, suggesting it arose in response to the persecution of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes which preceded the Maccabean revolt, wherein Torah reading was prohibited, or that it was "instituted against the Samaritans, who denied the canonicity of the Prophets (except for Joshua), and later against the Sadducees." Another theory is that it was instituted after some act of persecution or other disaster in which the synagogue Torah scrolls were destroyed or ruined - it was forbidden to read the Torah portion from any but a ritually fit parchment scroll, but there was no such requirement about a reading from Prophets, which was then "substituted as a temporary expedient and then remained." The Talmud mentions that a haftarah was read in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, who lived c.70 CE, and that by the time of Rabbah (the 3rd century) there was a "Scroll of Haftarot", which is not further described, and in the Christian New Testament several references suggest this Jewish custom was in place during that era.
No one knows for certain the origins of reading the haftarah, but several theories have been put forth. The most common explanation, accepted by some traditional Jewish authorities is that in 168 BCE, when the Jews were under the rule of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, they were forbidden from reading the Torah and made do with a substitute. When they were again able to read the Torah, they kept reading the haftarah as well. However this theory was not articulated before the 14th century, when it was suggested by Rabbi David Abudirham, but this explanation has several weaknesses.
An alternative explanation, offered by Rabbis Reuven Margolies and Samson Raphael Hirsch (except where otherwise identified, this is the Hirsch cited throughout this article), is that the haftarah reading was instituted to fight the influence of those sects in Judaism that viewed the Hebrew Bible as consisting only of the Torah.
However, all offered explanations for the origin of reading the haftarah have unanswered difficulties.
Certainly the haftarah was read — perhaps not obligatorily nor in all communities nor on every Sabbath — as far back as circa 70 CE: The Talmud mentions that a haftarah was read in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, who lived at that time. The New Testament indicates that readings from the Prophets - but not necessarily a fixed schedule - was a common part of the Sabbath service (Luke 4:16-17; Act 13:15 & 13:27) in Jerusalem synagogues even earlier than 70 CE.
Who reads the haftarah
Only one person reads the haftarah portion. This differs from the procedure in Torah reading, wherein the text is divided into anywhere from three to seven portions, which may be read by one person or divided amongst several.
The haftarah is traditionally read by the maftir, or the last person to be called up to the Torah scroll.
Traditions varied or evolved with regard to which person could read the haftarah. As an indication that, perhaps to make clear that the haftarah reading was not the same status as the Torah reading, a minor (i.e., a boy not yet bar mitzvah age) was permitted to chant the haftarah (at least on an ordinary Sabbath), and there were even communities where the haftarah reading was reserved exclusively for minor boys. In recent centuries, when the attainment of bar mitzvah age is celebrated with a distinct ceremony, the bar mitzvah boy (now an adult) will read the maftir portion and the haftarah. In some other communities, the haftarah could only be read by one who had participated in the Torah reading (in some practices, the maftir - the last man to have read from the Torah), or even the whole congregation would read the haftarah to themselves from the available humashim - this evidently to avoid embarrassing a reader who might make a mistake.
Rabbi Yosef Karo (16th century) reported that for many years there were no set haftarot: the maftir chose an appropriate passage from the Nevi'im. Over time, certain choices became established in certain communities; in contemporary Jewish observance one may not choose his or her own haftarah, explained Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, as that would run against accepted custom. Rabbi Karo's explanation, however, helps to explain why communities have varying customs regarding what to read as haftarah.
What form of the text is read
Unlike the Torah portion, the haftarah is, nowadays, normally read from a printed book. This may be either a Tanakh (entire Hebrew Bible), a Chumash (or "Humash") (volume containing the Torah with haftarot) or, in the case of the festivals, the prayer book; there are also books containing the haftarot alone in large print. Even when a scroll of haftarah readings is used, that scroll - unlike the Torah scroll - may include such embellishments as the vowel points and trope.
However, according to most halakhic decisors (posqim ), it is preferable to read the haftarah out of a parchment scroll, and according to a small minority of posqim (mainly the followers of the Vilna Gaon), such a parchment scroll is an absolute requirement. This may take various forms.
Haftarah blessings and customs
Blessings both precede and follow the haftarah reading. These blessings are derived from the minor (and uncanonical) Talmudic tractate Massekhet Soferim - also called, simply, Soferim, which dates back to the 7th or 8th century CE. But it is possible that these blessings, or at least some of them, date from before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. At least some haftarah blessings were in use by the second century (Talmud Babli, Shabbat 24a). The blessings are read by the person to read the haftarah portion; the blessing before the haftarah is read in the tune of the haftarah. The Sephardic practice is to recite, immediately after the text of the haftarah and before the concluding blessings, the verse Isaiah 47:4 ("Our Redeemer! The Lord of Hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel!"). The blessings following the haftarah are standard on all occasions the haftarah is read, except for the final blessing, which varies by date and is omitted on some days.
There are five blessings, one before, and the others after, the haftarah reading. These blessings may go back as far as the haftarah ritual itself. It will be immediately noticed that the haftarah has more, and longer, blessings than the reading of the Torah itself; it is plausible that the reading from the Prophets was given this distinction in order to emphasize the sacred nature of the Prophetic books in the face of Samaritan rejection. If the haftarah is read by the maftir, then he had already recited two blessings for the Torah reading and the five haftarah blessings means he has recited a total of the significant number of seven blessings. The first blessing is not recited until the Torah scroll has been rolled shut. And, similarly, the haftarah text itself - whether a book or a scroll - remains open on the lectern until after the final haftarah blessing is concluded. The blessings have changed but only a little over the centuries, the current text apparently coming from the late 11th century Machzor Vitry, with slight differences from the texts perpetuated in the tractate Massekhet Soferim (possibly 7th or 8th century), and the writings of Maimonides, dating back to the 12th century.
The first blessing, chanted before the haftarah portion read, uses the same melody as the haftarah chant itself, also in minor mode. For this reason, many prayerbooks print this first blessing with the cantillation marks used in the Bible itself for the books of the Prophets, possibly the only instance of a non-biblical text to be equipped with such marks. This initial blessing is only two verses, but both begin with blessing God, yet are not interrupted by an intervening Amen.
The blessings are as follows: The first blessing precedes the reading:
This is a somewhat free translation from the very poetic Hebrew text which is the same in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic prayerbooks. This first blessing is straight from the minor tractate Massekhet Soferim, chapter 13, paragraph 7. The first verse praises God, "who has chosen good prophets" (presumably distinguished from false prophets not called by God), the second verse is one of the few places in the Sabbath liturgy that mentions Moses, also chosen by God as were the prophets. In this context, 'Israel' means world Jewry wherever they may be.
Immediately after the last word of the haftarah has been read, many Sefardic, Mizrahi, and Italic congregations traditionally recite two Bible verses, which are then repeated by the maftir:
The blessings that follow the reading of the haftarah are chanted in the pentatonic scale.
The second blessing follows the end of the Prophetic reading:
Again, this is straight from Massekhet Soferim, paragraphs 8 and 10; Paragraph 9 set out a congregational response which seems not to have been adopted; after the first verse the congregation would rise and say "Faithful are you Lord our God, and trustworthy are your words. O faithful, living, and enduring, may you constantly rule over us forever and ever." This response apparently was in use in antiquity - the Jews of the eastern diaspora would recite this while seated, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael would stand. This practice appears to have ceased during the Middle Ages (it is not in Amram's prayerbook of the 9th century although a phrase of it ["Trustworthy are you Lord our God, living and enduring forever", right after "words are true and just"] is in the Mahzor Vitry , (ca. 1100), but in the 18th century Rabbi Jacob Emden criticized its omission. The second half of the blessing echoes Isaiah 45:23 and 55:11.
The third blessing follows immediately:
Very similar to Massekhet Soferim, paragraph 11, which begins "Comfort [Naham, instead of rahaym ], Lord our God, Zion your city..." and ends "who comforts the children of Zion." Zion means Mount Zion, the hill in Jerusalem on which the Temple stood, although it had been destroyed centuries before this blessing was composed. It is possible that Mount Zion is mentioned deliberately to refute the Samaritans, who centered their devotion to Mount Gerizim instead of Mount Zion. Instead of "save" the downtrodden, Massekhet Soferim has "avenge" [tenikum , instead of toshiya ], which is used in the Yemenite version of the blessing. By the time of Amram Gaon (9th century) and Saadiah Gaon (10th century), as well as the Mahzor Vitry (ca. 1100), 'be merciful' had replaced 'comfort' - but 'avenge' was still part of the text—and into the last century was still part of both Romaniot and Yemenite versions. It has been suggested that "save" replaced "avenge" in so many communities because of Christian and Moslem censorship or intimidation.
The fourth blessing follows immediately:
This is virtually identical to the text in Massekhet Soferim, paragraph 12, until the last line. Before the second "Blessed are you", Soferim contains this line (quoting Jeremiah 23:6): "And in his days may Judah be made safe, and Israel to dwell securely, and he shall be called, 'the Lord is our vindicator'." This line remained in Romaniot liturgy. Instead of "Shield of David", Soferim has "who brings to fruition the mighty salvation of his people Israel." But by the 3rd century, "shield of David" was the text in use (Talmud Babli, Pesachim 117b), predating Soferim.
The lines "let no stranger sit on his throne" and "others continue to usurp his glory" might date back to the earliest Talmudic times, when the Hasmoneans and Herodians, rather than true descendants of the royal house of David, were rulers of the Holy Land.
The fifth (final) blessing follows immediately and is a bit longer than the previous one:
This is from paragraph 13 of Soferim, which does not contain the phrase "by every living mouth", and which concludes with "who sanctifies Israel and the Day of whatever " (this last word to be replaced by the proper name of the holy occasion). Amram Gaon and Maimonides concluded with "who rebuilds Jerusalem," but this appears to have been discarded by all factions. This final blessing is modified for the various festivals and holidays. In all traditions that last phrase, "who sanctifies the Sabbath", is replaced by the appropriate substitute when the occasion is something other than an ordinary Sabbath, if a holiday falling on a Sabbath the phrasing is "And for this Sabbath day and for this day of this...." (if not on a Sabbath, then merely "and for this day of ..."); e.g. (for Passover) "Festival of Matzos", (on Shavuous) "Festival of Shavuous", (on Succos) "Festival of Succos, (on Shemini Atzeres or Simhas Torah) "Festival of the Assembly", (on Rosh Hashana) "Day of Remembrance", (on Yom Kippur) "Day of Atonement", - but it appears from Kol Bo (14th century) that Yom Kippur is the only fast day with a name and therefore this final blessing is not used on other fast days, such as Gedaliah or Esther or Tisha B'Av, since they have no such names that can be inserted into the blessing - and then the blessing concludes:
And on Yom Kippur, replace the last line with :
In ancient times the haftarah, like the Torah, was translated into Aramaic as it was read, and this is still done by Yemenite Jews. The Talmud lays down that, while the Torah must be translated verse by verse, it is permissible to translate other readings (such as the Haftarah) in units of up to three verses at a time.
Some generalities have been drawn from the haftarah choices, but they have exceptions. For example, that the haftarot have something in common, or some relevancy, with the Torah reading. But, for example, the relevance for the parsha Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20) is the one word, "wilderness", in Hosea 12:16 (and, of course, the haftarot for special Sabbaths and holidays do not require any relation to the Torah reading for that week). Or, that the haftarah should be at least 21 verses in length, to match the minimal Torah reading (see Talmud Babli, Megilla 23a & 23b, which mentions this as a doubtful requirement), but, e.g., the haftarah for Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) is, for Ashkenazim and Sephardim, only 10 verses; and the haftarah for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) is, for Ashkenazim and Sephardim only 15 verses, and for Italic Jews only 14 verses. The Tosefta mentions a haftarah in antiquity (before the 2nd century C.E.) that was just one verse, namely Isaiah 52:3, and some others that were only four or five verses. Another, that the haftarah reading should not end on a macabre or distressing verse, and therefore either the penultimate verse is repeated at the very end or else verses from elsewhere (sometimes even from different prophetic books) are used as a coda, such as with the haftarah for Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36) (Ashkenazim and Sephardim skip ahead in the same prophet to avoid concluding with the description of the dire fate of the wicked, a total of 19 verses; Chabad and Yemenite also skip ahead to avoid concluding with a different disquieting verse, a total of 16 verses; Karaites and Romaniote go back and repeat the penultimate verse, promising the reappearance of Elijah, rather than end with the word "desolation" - and the same applies when everyone else reads the same passage on Shabbat Hagadol ). Among the consistent characteristics is that entire verses are read; never is only a part of a verse read.
In antiquity there was no prescribed list of haftarah readings for the year, although the Talmudic literature (including the Midrash and Tosefta) does report some recommendations for specific holidays. It would appear that, in antiquity, the choice of portion from the Prophets was made ad hoc, without regard for the choice of previous years or of other congregations, either by the reader or by the congregation or its leaders; this is evidenced by recommendations in Talmudic literature that certain passages should not be chosen for haftarah readings, which indicates that, to that time, that a regular list for the year's readings did not exist. Further evidence of the lack of an ancient authoritative list of readings is the simple fact that, while the practice of reading a haftarah every Sabbath and most holy days is ubiquitous, the different traditions and communities around the world have by now adopted differing lists, indicating that no solid tradition from antiquity dictated the haftarah selections for a majority of the ordinary Sabbaths.
The haftarah is read with cantillation according to a unique melody (not with the same cantillation melody as the Torah). The tradition to read Nevi'im with its own special melody is attested to in late medieval sources, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic. A medieval Sephardic source notes that the melody for the haftarot is a slight variation of the tune used for reading the books of Nevi'im in general (presumably for study purposes), and Jews of Iraqi origin to this day preserve separate "Neviim" and "Haftarah" melodies.
Note that although many selections from Nevi'im are read as haftarot over the course of the year, the books of Nevi'im are not read in their entirety (as opposed to the Torah). Since Nevi'im as a whole is not covered in the liturgy, the melodies for certain rare cantillation notes which appear in the books of Nevi'im but not in the haftarot have been forgotten. For more on this, see Nevi'im.
As a generality, although the Torah was chanted in a major key (ending in a minor key), the haftarah is chanted in a minor key (as is the blessing before the reading of the haftarah) and ends in a pentatonic mode (and the blessings following the haftarah reading are also pentatonic).
The Haftarot for the morning of Tisha b'Av, and for the Shabbat preceding it, are, in many synagogues, predominantly read to the cantillation melody used for the public reading of the Book of Lamentations, or Eicha.
Leonard Bernstein employed the Haftarah cantillation melody extensively as a theme in the second movement ("Profanation") of his Symphony No. 1 ("Jeremiah").
Haftarot on Sabbath afternoon
Some Rishonim, including Rabbenu Yaakov Tam, report that a custom in the era of the Talmud was to read a haftarah at the mincha service each Sabbath afternoon — but that this haftarah was from the Ketuvim rather than from the Nevi'im. Most halachic authorities maintain that that was not the custom in Talmudic times, and that such a custom should not be followed. In the era of the Geonim, some communities, including some in Persia, read a passage from Nevi'im (whether or not in the form of a haftarah) Sabbath afternoons. Although this practice is virtually defunct, most halachic authorities maintain that there is nothing wrong with it.
Rabbi Reuven Margolies claims that the now-widespread custom of individuals' reciting Psalm 111 after the Torah reading Sabbath afternoon derives from the custom reported by Rabbenu Tam. Louis Ginzberg makes the analogous claim for the custom of reciting Psalm 91 in Motza'ei Shabbat.
Haftarah as a B'nai Mitzvah ritual
In many communities the haftarah is read by a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah at his or her respective ceremonies, along with some, all, or, sometimes none of the Torah portion. This is often referred to, mainly in Hebrew schools and bar preparatory programs, as a haftarah portion.
List of Haftarot
The selections of haftarot readings for the various weeks, and holy days, of the year differs from tradition to tradition - Ashkenazic from Sefardic from Yemenite from Mizrachi, etc. And even within a tradition there is no one authoritative list, but a multitude of different lists from different communities and congregations, usually differing from each other by only one or two haftarot. A study of the antiquity of each of these lists, and how they differ from each other, is beyond the scope of this (or any other brief) article but may be most informative on the history (including the contacts and separations) of the various communities.
The selection from Nevi'im [the Prophets] read as the haftarah is not always the same in all Jewish communities. When customs differ, this list indicates them as follows: A=Ashkenazic custom (AF=Frankfurt am Main; AH=Chabad; AP= Poland); I=Italian custom; S=Sephardic and Mizrahi custom (SM=Maghreb [North Africa]; SZ= Mizrahi [Middle and Far East]); Y=Yemenite custom; R=Romaniote (Byzantine, eastern Roman empire, extinct) custom; and K=Karaite custom. In some instances Isr.Wikip = the Israeli version of Wikipedia (in Hebrew) of this article had different readings in its list. In several instances, authorities did not agree on the readings of various communities.
Because, in the Diaspora, certain holy days and festivals are observed for an additional day, which day is not so observed in Eretz Yisrael, sometimes different haftarot are read simultaneously inside and outside Eretz Yisrael.
Haftarot for Genesis
(some Y add at end First Kings 1:46)
what follows is as given in Hirsch, Hertz, Jerusalem Crown, & the Koren Bibles)
acc to Hirsch, SJC, & Benisch): Obadiah 1:1-21 (entire book).
(° however,if Vayeshev occurs on the first Sabbath Hanukkah, which happens
occasionally, the Haftarah is Zechariah 2:14–4:7.)
(° This haftarah may be the most rarely read, - e.g., in 1996, 2000, 2020, 2023,
2040, 2047, 2067, 2070, 2074, 2094, 2098 - because this Sabbath is usually the
first, sometimes the second, Sabbath in Hanukka, in which case a specific
holiday haftarah is substituted.)
proclaims Hazak, hazak, v'nit'hazek ! - "Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened!")
Haftarot for Exodus
(° in most years, the Sabbath of Mishpatim is the Sabbath of Parsha Shekalim)
° (This haftarah is very seldom read — e.g., in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014,
2033, 2035, 2038, 2052, 2062 — because this Sabbath is often combined
with that of Pekudei and very often is also the Sabbath of Shekalim
or of Hahodesh or of Parah, in which case another haftarah is substituted.)
proclaims Hazak, hazak, v'nit'hazek ! - "Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened!") °
(° in most years this haftarah is not read because it falls on the Sabbath
of Parsha HaHodesh, or, less often, Parsha Shekalim )
Haftarot for Leviticus
Shabbat Hagadol, or, less often, the Sabbath of Parsha Zachor or of Parsha Parah.)
(both Hirsch and the ArtScroll humashim note that there is some confusion over the
correct Haftarah. In most years this parsha is combined with next, Kedoshim, so
the two are seldom distinguished from each other:)
(° This reading contains the verse, disparaging the city of Jerusalem, which Rabbi
Eliezer ben Hyrcanus disfavored in Megilla 25b. It was therefore the practice of the Vilna Gaon,
of Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, and others, to read the haftarah for the next parsha
from Amos, even if this meant repeating the same Amos reading two weeks in a row.)
portions must be combined, the second week's haftarah is read)
and some S acc to Hirsch), some I: Ezekiel 20:2-20
read with the haftarah for Bechukotai )
proclaims Hazak, hazak, v'nit'hazek ! - "Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened!")
(The person who reads the list of curses [verses 26:14-43]
is not called up by name, and is supposed to read the curses in
a whisper and as fast as possible)
(In most years this parsha is combined with Behar )
Haftarot for Numbers
(° This haftarah, in all traditions, includes Zechariah 3:2, which contains the very
rarely used cantillation accent of mercha kefula, under zeh - "this [burning stick]".)
of the years with a Second Adar) °
(° in most years Pinchas falls after 17 Tammuz, and the haftarot for Matot is
read instead. The haftarah for Pinchas is read rarely - and only in some
of the years that have a Second Adar, and - because of peculiarities in observing holy days
in the Diaspora - is read in the Diaspora - as it is in the summers of 2005, 2008,
2011, 2014, 2035, 2052, 2062, 2065, 2079, 2092 - only about half as often as it is
read in Eretz Yisrael. See the note for the next Sabbath)
(° this Sabbath, or the preceding one, begins the three Sabbaths before the Fast
of the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av), the Three Sabbaths of Calamity,
whose haftarot, at least for A and S, are two prophecies of Jeremiah,
and one from Isaiah. In most years, Matot is combined with Masei and
only the haftarah for Masei is read; only in the same years that Pinchas occurs
before 18 Tammuz are Matot and Masei read on separate Sabbaths.)
(° in most years Matot and Masei are combined in one Sabbath, and as customary
only the second haftarah - the one for Masei - is read.)
proclaims Hazak, hazak, v'nit'hazek ! - "Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened!")
Haftarot for Deuteronomy
Fast of Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av)
of the Scroll of Lamentations until verse 25)
(This is always Shabbat Nahamu , the first Sabbath after the Fast of the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av), and the first of the Seven Haftarot of Consolation)
(° According to the Shulchan Aruch, if Rosh Hodesh [the new moon] of Elul
- which has its own haftarah, namely Isaiah 66 - coincides with Shabbat Re'eh,
the haftarah of Re'eh, not for Rosh Hodesh Elul, is read because
the Seven Sabbaths of Consolation must not be interrupted)
(The person who reads the list of curses [verses 28:7–-69] is not called to the scroll by name,
and is supposed to read the list in a whisper and as fast as possible)
coincides with Shabbat Shuvah, then this last Haftarah of Consolation is read for Vayelech.)
(° It appears that Vayelech has no haftarah portion of its own, because Vayelech either takes
the haftarah of Shabbat Shuvah or the haftarah of Netzavim. If Vayelech falls
between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which usually happens, the haftarah for
the Shabbat Shuva is read; otherwise Shabbat Shuvah coincides with Netzavim and so the
the haftarah of Netzavim is shifted to the week of Vayelech. Several editions - e.g., Hirsch,
Hertz, ArtScroll - have assigned the Shabbat Shuva reading as the customary
haftarah for Vayelech, some others - such as the IDF and JPS1985 - have no haftarah
listed specifically for Vayelech.)
(This reading from Isaiah is also used as the afternoon (minchah ) haftarah for
minor fast days, such as Gedaliah or Esther.)
proclaims Hazak, hazak, v'nit'hazek ! - "Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened!")
(The haftarah for this Parashah is seldom read because it coincides
with Simhat Torah which has its own special haftarah.)
Haftarot for special Sabbaths, Festivals, and Fast Days
In general, on the dates below, the haftarot below are read, even if that entails overriding the haftarah
for a Sabbath Torah portion. However, in certain communities, the first two haftarot below
(that for Rosh Hodesh and that for the day preceding Rosh Hodesh) are replaced by the regular
weekly haftarah when the weekly reading is Masei (occurring in mid-summer) or later.
Some of these occasions also have specific Torah readings, which (for A and S) are noted parenthetically.
of Adar, Nisan, Tevet, or (in some communities) Av or Elul; and except Rosh Hashanah
(Torah reading: Numbers 28:9-15, acc to JPS, Hirsch, Soncino Chumash; Numbers 28:1-15, acc to Hertz, ArtScroll)
Rosh Hodesh of the months of Nisan, Tevet, Adar, or (in most communities) Elul and except Rosh Hashanah
[The holidays and special Sabbaths are listed in their usual sequence during the year, starting with Rosh Hashanah ]
(Torah reading: Genesis chap. 21 and Numbers 29:1-6)
(Torah reading: Genesis chap. 22 and Numbers 29:1-6)
Hirsch says, because the Hosea reading ends on a sad note, A added the passage from Joel, S added
the one from Micah. However, many communities nowadays add both these passages.
is done in "some communities" although contrary to the halachic practice)
(ArtScroll has Joel as second, Micah as last; Dotan notes this is used in "a few communities", Hirsch says this is the practice in Eretz Israel.)
"Some few congregations" (acc to ArtScroll) read Isaiah 55:6–56:8 (the haftarah associated with
Vayelech and with the minchah of fast days) instead. (Some lists or books have no specific entry
for Shabbat Shuva, leading to the supposition that the haftarah usually associated with the
week's parsha - usually Vayelech - is to be read; and some apply a more complex exchange
of haftarot if there is - as often occurs - a Sabbath in the four days between Yom Kippur
and the beginning of Sukkot; in which case that Sabbath is Parsha Haazinu.)
(Torah reading: Leviticus chap. 16 and Numbers 29:7-11)
(Torah reading: Leviticus chap. 18)
(Torah reading: Leviticus 22:26-23:44 and Numbers 29:12-16)
(Torah reading: Leviticus 22:26-23:44 and Numbers 29:12-16)
(Torah reading: Exodus 33:12-34:26 and the appropriate reading from Numbers 29 )
(Although not an actual haftarah, just before the Torah reading on the
intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot—or if there is no intermediate Sabbath, then on Shemini Atzeret,
the entire scroll of Ecclesiastes (Koheleth ) is read, concluding with
a repetition of verse 12:13, without any specific blessings.)
(Torah reading: Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 and Numbers 29:35-30:1)
(Torah reading: Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12 and Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Numbers 29:35-30:1)
used for a bridgegroom [Isaiah 61:10-62:8].)
(° This haftarah is recommended in the Talmud (Megillah 31a), in all traditions,
includes Zechariah 3:2, which contains the very rarely used cantillation accent
of mercha kefula, under zeh - "this [burning stick]".)
(It appears there was an ancient custom to read, or to read additionally, First Kings 7:51-8:21,
describing the dedication of the first Temple.)
read because it often coincides with Pekudei or with a special Sabbath,
and in fact the two readings of this haftarah will never occur in the same year.)
(Torah reading: Exodus 30:11-16)
(° This is the first of four Sabbaths preceding Passover. It occurs on the Sabbath that
either coincides with the New Moon, or precedes the New Moon that occurs during the
following week, of the month of Second Adar — or of Adar in an ordinary year. These
four Sabbaths may be the oldest assigned haftarot, from Tosefta, Megillah chap.4.)
(Torah reading: Deuteronomy 25:17-19)
regular service on the morning of Purim, in a more sedate mood, the entire Scroll
of Esther is read,
preceded by a special blessing of God "who commanded us to read the Scroll"
(that command is Esther 9:21) and followed by another special blessing of God "who avenges his people Yisrael"
(Torah reading: Numbers 19:1-22)
(Torah reading: Exodus 12:1-20)
(° If Rosh Hodesh [New Moon] for Nisan coincides with Parsha Hahodesh,
then the haftarah for Hahodesh, not for Rosh Hodesh, is read because
the obligation of this special parsha is greater. Dotan says that if
Shabbat Hahodesh coincides with Rosh Hodesh, then S and SZ add
to the Hahodesh haftarah the first and last verses
of the haftarah of Rosh Hodesh [namely, Isaiah 66:1 & 66:23], if Shabbat Hahodesh
falls on the day before Rosh Hodesh, then they add the first and last verses of the haftarah
for the Eve of Rosh Hodesh [namely First Samuel 20:18 & 20:42])
° Several sources report that "some communities" (including some A and Hassidic, including Chabad) read
the special haftarah only when Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat Hagadol (meaning the first seder is celebrated that
Saturday night) - which occurs infrequently, and "other communities" (including some other A and Hassidic) read
the special haftarah on Shabbat HaGadol only if Erev Pesach falls on another day of the week.
Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat HaGadol in the spring of 1994, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2021, 2025, 2045,
2048, 2052, 2072, 2075, 2079, and 2099.
(the Munkatcher Rebbe omitted verse 3:7), ('Hertz' omitted Joshua 3:5-7)
(Torah reading: Leviticus 22:26-23:44 and Numbers 28:16-25)
(° many, perhaps most, skip verses 23:10-20, but the Vilna Gaon
recommended that these verses be read - except verse 13,
because it mentions a shameful deed by King Solomon. Some
congregations begin the reading at 23:4.)
(Torah reading: Exodus 33:12-34:26 and Numbers 28:19-25)
(° Although not an actual haftarah, it is a widespread practice to read the entire scroll
of the Song of Songs, without any specific blessings, before the Torah reading on
the intermediate Sabbath of Passover, or, if there is no intermediate Sabbath, then
on the seventh or eighth day of Passover, whichever is a Sabbath).
(Torah reading: Exodus 13:17-15:26 and Numbers 28:19-25)
(Torah reading: if not a Sabbath, Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17,
if on a Sabbath Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, and Numbers 28:19-25)
(Torah reading: Exodus 19:1-20:23 and Numbers 28:26-31)
(° The Shulchan Aruch directs the reading of Ezekiel 1:1 through 3:12
continuously, but most skip all or part of chapter 2 and skip to 3:12. Because
the first chapter of Ezekiel describes the Heavenly Chariot, this haftarah
is customarily read and expounded by a rabbi or an esteemed scholar,
in keeping with the direction of the Mishna, Hagigah 2:1.)
(Although not an actual haftarah, immediately before the Torah reading in the morning
service of Shavuot in Israel - in the Diaspora, this is in the morning service of the second day
of Shavuot - the entire scroll of Ruth is read, without special blessings.)
(Torah reading: if not a Sabbath Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17,
if on a Sabbath Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, and Numbers 28:26-31)
(° Many A congregations, after reading the first verse of the
haftarah (namely 2:20), then read an Aramaic piyyut (poem),
Yetziv Pisgam, extolling God's infinite power, after which the reading
from Habakkuk resumes. A minority of congregations
recite a different poem, Ata Vedugma, instead, and
some do not interrupt the haftarah with any poem.)
with the reading of the entire scroll of Lamentations, reading from a paper copy not from parchment,
concluded with a repetition of verse 5:21, without any specific blessings before or after, followed by
a collection of dirges (kinot ). Some congregations repeat the reading at the end of the morning service.
(Torah reading: Deuteronomy 4:25-40) (Those called to read from the Torah scroll are not given
the usual congratulations for this honor)
(not an actual haftarah) some A repeat the reading of Lamentations, ending with a repeat of verse 5:21; some S read the entire Book of Job
for this service by Isaac Ibn Ghiyath, Spain ca. 1080, and is used by all except A)
(Torah reading: Exodus 32:11-14 and 34:1-10)
(° According to the Shulchan Aruch, if Rosh Hodesh [the new moon] - which has its own haftarah
(namely Isaiah 66) - coincides with Shabbat Re'eh, then the haftarah of Re'eh (Isaiah 54:11-55:5),
not the haftarah for Rosh Hodesh, is read because the seven Sabbaths of Consolation must
not be interrupted. However, in Frankfurt and Eastern Europe, it is the custom in such an
occurrence to read the haftarah for Rosh Hodesh instead, and the second Sabbath afterward,
which would be Parsha Ki Tetze, would double up and read first the haftarah Ki Tetze (Isaiah 54:1-10)
and then haftarah Re'eh.)
Haftarah for a bridegroom
It was customary in many communities to read Isaiah 61:10 - 62:8 (Italic would read 61:9 - 62:9) if a bridegroom (who had married within the previous week) was present in the synagogue.
read after the usual haftarah, either before or after — depending on local custom — the closing blessings of the haftarah.
When a Talmudically specified haftarah was to be read on a certain Sabbath (e.g., on Sabbath of Hanukkah), some communities
did not read the bridegroom's haftarah, preferring to keep to the standard haftarah of the week. Again, customs varied:
Nowadays, this custom has virtually disappeared. No one reads a special haftarah for a bridegroom any longer, except the Karaites and perhaps intensely Orthodox congregations.