The Haftarah

"The Departure - Taking Leave"

The term "Haftarah", which in Hebrew means "The Departure" , refers to the readings from the Books of the Prophets (Nevi'im) in the Hebrew Bible.

These readings are separate from, and follow, the Torah readings every Shabbat, Festivals and on Fast Days.

In the majority of congregations, the Haftarah is chanted by the last person called to the Torah, who is known as the Maftir.

The term Maftir refers to the congregant who is "taking leave" of the Torah reading, and who will continue with the Haftarah reading.
The Maftir congregant recites the blessings before and after the last verses of the just concluded Torah reading.
Once the Torah scroll has been raised ("Hagba") for the congregation to see, and the scroll has been dressed "Gelilah"), the Maftir begins to recite the opening blessing which precedes the Haftarah reading.

Unlike the Torah reading which has to be recited from a Torah scroll which has no vowels or punctuation, the Haftarah is read from any collection of the Prophets.
It is marked with vowels, punctuation and cantillation to enable the Maftir to chant the Haftarah according to the congregation's accepted style (Nusach).

At the end of the Haftarah reading, the Maftir closes
with the four blessings that conclude that part of the service.
The Hebrew Bible (Tanach) consists of three main sections:

Torah (The Five Books of Moses)
Nevi'im  (The Prophets)
Ketuvim  (The Writings)
Traditionally, a BarMitzvah celebrant is given the honour of being the Maftir and chanting the Haftarah. In Conservative and Reform congregations a BatMitzvah celebrant receives the same honour).

As the Ashkenazi pronunciation for Haftarah is "Haftoroh" , this can lead to confusion with the word "Torah". But in Hebrew the two words are unrelated. (Torah is spelt with a "taf" and Haftarah is spelt with a "tet")

These are the prayers which the congregant recites
BEFORE and AFTER the Haftarah reading:

Praised are You Adonai Our God,
Who Rules the Universe,
Appointing devoted prophets,
And upholding their teachings,
Messages of truth,
Praised are You, Adonai,
Who loves the Torah
Moses his servant,
Israel His people,
and prophets of truth and righteousness.

Praised are You Adonai our God,
Who rules the universe,
Rock of all ages,
Righteous in all generations,
Steadfast God
Whose word is deed,
Whose decree is fulfillment,
Whose every teaching is
Truth and Righteousness.

Faithful are You, Adonai our God,
In all Your promises,
Of which not one will remain unfulfilled,
For You are a faithful and merciful God
And Sovereign.
Praised are You Adonai, God,
Faithful in all Your promises.

Show compassion for Zion,
The fount of our existence,
And bring hope soon to the humbled spirit.
Praised are You Adonai,
Who brings joy to Zion.

Bring us joy, Adonai our God,
Through Your prophet, Elijah,
and the kingdom of the House of David
Your annointed.
May Elijah come soon,
To gladden our hearts.
May no outsider usurp David's throne,
And may no other inherit his glory.
For by Your holy name
Have You promised that his light
Shall never be extinguished.
Praised are You Adonai,
Shield of David.

We thank You and praise You,
Adonai our God,
For the Torah, for worship,
for the prophets, for this Shabbat,
which You have given us for holiness
and rest, for dignity and splendor.
We thank You and praise You
for all things.
May Your name be praised continually
by every living creature.
Praised are You Adonai,
Who sanctifies Shabbat.

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