Triennial Cycle of Haftarot
Are the haftarot more sacred than Torah?
I first began to read Torah on a triennial cycle when I was the rabbi in Victoria, British Columbia in 1975-76. At that time, there was already a little printed sheet which listed all the Torah readings divided such that the entire Torah would be read once every three years rather than annually. And, even then, I noticed that the same had not been done for the haftarot, the readings from the other two sections of the TaNaKah which continued to be chanted on an annual cycle. To my yeshivah trained mind, this seemed like an elevation of Nach to a higher level of sanctity than that of the Torah, since these secions were read annually while the Torah was read every three years.
At the time, this was simply an observation without much practical significance. Along with many other havurot and synagogues, I had pretty much eliminated the haftarah altogether in the interests of a shorter service as well as the ability to have a weekly discussion of the Torah reading. I preferred that more of the two and a half hours of a Shabbat morning service focus on singing, moving slowly through an unfamiliar Hebrew liturgy, and an in depth look at the Torah portion rather than speeding things up so that all the required words would be said. Nor was I prepared to advocate for the three or more hours it had taken for the synagogue services of my youth to complete the liturgy and readings.
However, the chanting of haftarot continued as a practice for bar and bat mitzvah students and for the adult versions of these ceremonies. As well, there is a small, but growing interest in haftarot within Jewish Renewal, as at least one of our synagogues and our ordination students include haftarot some of the time.
When I began this blog, my first offering was a triennial cycle of weekday Torah readings. I now offer you the completion of the three part triennial cycle with a triennial cycle of haftarot. The link below is a four part file:
Part One is an introduction to the project.
Part Two is the list of haftarot following the order of the Torah portions.
Part Three is notes on why I selected certain texts as haftarot in cases where I thought the process needed description.
Part Four is a list of all the haftarot arranged by the book of Nach from which they were taken and the sidrah to which they are assigned.
I hope that this list will encourage both the reading of the Torah and these haftarot. Please, as always, feel free to share this with others you think may be interested. I would also particularly enjoy an exchange of comments and questions on this website.
Finally, I have the double benefit of having wonderful friends who also help in supporting the work that I do. The time for this project came through the support and encouragement of Harley Rothstein and Eleanor Boyle, whose constant love and presence in my life has been and continues to be a blessing.