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Haftarah Blessings


Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who chose good prophets and was satisfied that their words were true. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who chooses the Torah, Moses Your servant, Israel Your people, and prophets of truth and righteousness.

- Haftarah selection is read –

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Rock of all worlds, Righteous in all generations, trustworthy God Whose word is deed, Who fulfills Your promises, Whose every word is true and just.
You are trustworthy, Adonai our God, and your words are trustworthy. Not a single one of Your words returns unfulfilled, for a trustworthy and compassionate God and King are You. Blessed are You, Adonai, God whose words may all be trusted.

Have mercy upon Zion, for it is the foundation of our life. Bring salvation speedily to her who has been humiliated{Zion is here personified as a mother who has been humiliated by the forceful exile of her children that she was powerless to prevent.} speedily, in our own time. Blessed are You, Adonai, who makes Zion rejoice in her children.

Cause us to rejoice, Adonai our God, in Your servant Elijah the prophet{Elijah ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot, and tradition therefore holds that he never died. It is he, therefore, who will announce the arrival of God’s mashiach, the anointed descendant of King David who will rule in Jerusalem at the end of days.}, and in the kingdom of the House of David Your anointed one… may he come speedily and cause our heart to exult. No outsider shall ever usurp his throne, nor shall any others inherit his glory, for by Your holy Name did You promise him that his lamp would never be extinguished. Blessed are You, Adonai, shield of David.

For the Torah, for the privilege of worship, for the prophets, and for this Shabbat day that You, Adonai our God have given us for holiness and rest, for honor and for glory—for all this, Adonai our God do we thank and bless You. May Your Name be blessed by every living being for all eternity. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who sanctifies Shabbat.

Immediately after the seven aliyot to the Torah, one member of the congregation is called up for the honor of maftir (root f t r פטר “to complete”). This person repeats the last few sentences of the Torah portion (parashat ha-shavua), whereupon the Torah scroll is raised on high so that everyone may see the portion that has just been read. As it is raised, the congregation chants:

וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל על פי יי ביד משה

This is the Torah that Moses placed before the Israelites, at the command of Adonai, through the agency of Moses.

As the Torah is being wrapped, the maftir steps up to the bima once again, and chants a portion from the Neviim, the prophetic books. This portion is known as the haftara הפטרה (“completion”). Unlike the Torah, which is read consecutively from Genesis through Deuteronomy, the prophetic selections are chosen for their thematic relationship to the weekly Torah reading.

Some scholars have theorized that the haftara was introduced into the service as a polemical response to followers of Jesus, who had begun to introduce readings from the Christian Bible (“New Testament”) into their services. “The TaNaKh already has all the messianic prophecies we need,” the Jewish congregation would declare, “and here is a passage from Neviim that explores the messianic implications of the parasha that has just been read.”

Maftir is a signal honor, usually reserved for elders of the congregation, for young men on the Shabbat before their nuptials, and for even younger men (and nowadays, women) who have just attained the status of adulthood (bar mitzvah) according to Jewish law.

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