; plural haftarot
; "parting," "taking leave") is a text important to the modern observance of Judaism
. It consists of selections from the Hebrew Bible
), specifically from the books of Nevi'im
("The Prophets"), and it is read publicly in the synagogue after the reading of the Torah
on each Sabbath
, as well as on Jewish festivals and fast days. The haftarah
usually has a thematic link to the Torah reading that precedes it. The haftarah
may be sung in cantillation ("trop" in Yiddish, "trope" in English)
. Its related blessings are spoken before and after it.
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 B.C.E., when the Jews were under the rule
of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes
, they were forbidden from reading
and made do with a substitute. When they were again able to read the Pentateuch
, they kept reading the haftarah
An alternative explanation, offered by Rabbis Reuven Margolies and Samson Raphael Hirsch, is that the haftarah reading was instituted to fight the influence of those sects in Judaism that viewed the Jewish Bible as consisting only of the Pentateuch.
But all offered explanations for the origin of reading the haftarah have unanswered difficulties.
Certainly the haftarah was read — perhaps not obligatorily or in all communities — 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. However, Rabbi Yosef Karo reports that for many years there were no set haftarot: each maftir (one reading the haftarah) chose an appropriate passage from the Nevi'im. Over time, certain choices became established in certain communities; nowadays one may not choose his own haftarah, explains Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, as that would run against accepted custom. But Rabbi Karo's explanation helps to explain why communities have varying customs regarding what to read as haftarah.
Who reads the haftarah
is traditionally read by the maftir
, or the last person to be called up to the Torah scroll.
Rabbi Yosef Karo reports 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 own haftarah, explains 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.
In some congregations, when a child is having their Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah, they will read the haftarah.
The haftarah blessings
Blessings both precede and follow the haftarah
reading. 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 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.
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
. 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).
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 melody 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.
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.
Haftarot on Sabbath afternoon
, 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 haftarah
Sabbath afternoons. Although this practice is virtually defunct, most halachic authorities maintain that there's 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.
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
preparatory programs, as a haftarah portion
List of Haftarot
The selection from Nevi'im
read as the haftarah
is not always the same in all Jewish communities. When customs differ, this list indicates them as follows: A
=Frankfurt am Main
custom. When these letters do not appear, all customs agree.
Haftarot for Genesis
- A: Isaiah 42:5–43:10
- I: Isaiah 42:1–21
- S: Isaiah 42:5–21
- Y: Isaiah 42:1–16
- Q: Isaiah 65:7–66:13
- A, Y, SN: Isaiah 54:1–55:5
- AF, AH: Isaiah 54:1–10
- some Y communities: Isaiah 54:1–55:3
- S: Isaiah 55:1–10
- I: Isaiah 54:1–55:5
- Q: Isaiah 54:9–55:12
- A, S: Isaiah 40:27–41:16
- I: Isaiah 40:25–41:17
- Q: Joshua 24:3–18
- A, I: 2 Kings 4:1–37
- S: 2 Kings 4:1–23
- Q: Isaiah 33:17–35:10
- Chayei Sarah
- A, S: 1 Kings 1:1–31
- I: 1 Kings 1:1–34
- Y: 1 Kings 1:1–31,46
- Dardai communities: 1 Kings 1:1–31
- Q: Isaiah 51:2–51:22
- A, S: Malachi 1:1–2:7
- Q: Isaiah 65:23–66:18
- A: Hosea 11:7–12:12
- S, I: Obadiah 1:1-21
- 1 Kings 3:15–4:1
- I: 1 Kings 3:15–28
Haftarot for Exodus
Haftarot for Leviticus
Haftarot for Numbers
Haftarot for Deuteronomy
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 haftara
for a Sabbath Torah portion. However, in certain communities, the first two hafatarot
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
- Sabbath coinciding with the day preceding Rosh Hodesh, except Rosh Hodesh Nisan, Tevet, or Adar, and except Rosh Hashanah
- Sabbath coinciding with Rosh Hodesh, except Rosh Hodesh Nisan, Tevet, or Adar, and except Rosh Hashanah
- Isaiah 66:1–24 & repeat 66:23
- Sabbath immediately preceding the second day of Nisan (Sabbath of Parashat Hahodesh)
- A: Ezekiel 45:16–46:18
- S: Ezekiel 45:18–46:15
- I: Ezekiel 45:18–46:18
- Sabbath immediately preceding Passover (Shabbat Hagadol)
- Malachi 3:4–24 & repeat 3:23
- First day of Passover
- Second day of Passover (outside of Eretz Yisrael)
- A, S: 2 Kings 23:1–9 & 23:21–25
- I: 2 Kings 23:1–9 & 23:21–30
- Sabbath of the intermediate days of Passover
- A: Ezekiel 37:1–17
- S, I: Ezekiel 36:37–37:17
- Seventh day of Passover
- Eighth day of Passover (outside of Eretz Yisrael)
- First day of Shavuot
- Second day of Shavuot (outside of Eretz Yisrael)
- 9 Av, morning haftarah
- 9 Av, afternoon haftarah
- A: Isaiah 55:6–56:8
- most S: Hosea 14:2–10
- I: Hosea 14:2–10 & Micah 7:18–20
- Sabbath coinciding with Rosh Hodesh Elul
- Isaiah 66:1–24 & repeat 66:23
- First day of Rosh Hashanah
- A, S: 1 Samuel 1:1–2:20
- I: 1 Samuel 1:1–2:10
- Second day of Rosh Hashanah
- A, S: Jeremiah 31:1–19
- I: Jeremiah 31:1–20
- Fast of Gedaliah, morning haftarah
- Fast of Gedaliah, afternoon haftarah
- A, Y, some S: Isaiah 55:6–56:8
- I: Hosea 14:2–10
- Sabbath before Yom Kippur (Shabbat Shuva)
- Hosea 14:2–10. Also, communities add either Joel 2:15–17 or Micah 7:18–20. However, many communities nowadays add both these passages, a custom generally considered baseless.
- Some communities read Isaiah 55:6–56:8 instead.
- Yom Kippur, morning haftarah
- A, S: Isaiah 57:14–58:14
- I: Isiah 57:14–58:14 & 59:20–21
- Yom Kippur, afternoon haftarah
- Jonah (entire), and Micah 7:18–20
- Some communities omit the part from Micah
- First day of Sukkot
- Second day of Sukkot (outside of Eretz Yisrael)
- A, S: Kings I 8:2–21
- I: 1 Kings 7:51–8:16
- Sabbath of the intermerdiate days of Sukkot
- A, S: Ezekiel 38:18–39:16
- I: Ezekiel 38:18–39:10
- Shemini Atzeret (outside of Eretz Yisrael)
- Simhat Torah
- A, I: Joshua 1:1–18
- S: Joshua 1:1–9
- Some communities: 1 Kings 8:22–53
- First (or only) Sabbath of Hanukkah
- Second Sabbath of Hanukkah
- Sabbath immediately preceding the second day of Adar (or Adar II) (Sabbath of Parashat Shekalim)
- Sabbath immediately preceding Purim (Sabbath of Parashat Zachor)
- Sabbath Shushan Purim in cities that celebrate it
- Sabbath Shushan Purim in cities that celebrate Purim
- No special haftarah: the usual haftarah for that week's parsha is read
- Sabbath immediately following Shushan Purim (Sabbath of Parashat Parah)
- Fast days (other than those listed above), morning haftarah
- Fast days (other than those listed above), afternoon haftarah
- A: Isaiah 55:6–56:8
- S: none
Haftarah for a bridegroom
It was customary in many communities to read Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9 if a bridegroom (who had married within the previous week) was present in the synagogue. Customs varied:
- In some communities, this entire haftarah was read, supplanting the usual haftarah of that week.
- In some communities, only a few verses (possibly Isaiah 61:10 – 62:5, although the literature is unclear) were read. They were 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:
- In some communities, the bridegroom's haftarah was read.
- Some communities, even though they normally read the entire briodegroom's haftarah for a bridegroom, now merely appended a few verses of it to the weekly haftarah.
- Some communities omitted the bridegroom's haftarah altogether, reading the weekly haftarah instead.
Nowadays, this custom has virtually disappeared. No one except the Karaite Jews reads a special haftarah for a bridegroom any longer.
- Michael Fishbane. The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2002. ISBN 0-8276-0691-5.
- J. H. Hertz. "The Pentetuch and Haftorahs". Jewish Publication Society of America, 1917.
- Shlomo [David] Katz. The Haftarah: Laws, Customs, & History. Silver Spring, Maryland: Hamaayan/The Torah Spring, 2000.
- Laura Suzanne Lieber. Study Guide to the JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2002. ISBN 0-8276-0718-0.
- W. Gunther Plaut. The Haftarah Commentary. New York: URJ Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8074-0551-5.
- Indice dei contenuti audio/video del sito www.torah.it (Italian). Retrieved on 2008-08-03