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What is the Haftarah?

On Shabbat and holiday mornings, after the Torah is read, another biblical selection is read. Called the haftarah (plural, haftarot), this reading traditionally comes from one of the Prophets. Haftarah comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to conclude.” This reading had become common practice by 100 C.E.

The haftarah is selected because it relates to the day’s Torah portion. Sometimes the connection is obvious. At other times, the connection may hinge on just a word or two. On holidays and special Sabbaths, the haftarah is selected to coincide with the calendar.

As in the reading of Torah, blessings are said before and after the haftarah is read. While it may be read, the haftarah portion is usually chanted. The chant is based on trope, a musical notation system. The haftarah has its own specific trope. Unlike the Torah, which is read from a handwritten scroll, the haftarah is written from a printed book that includes the trope notations.

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