Monday, January 07, 2008

A tale of two haftarot

I learned Haftarat Vaera, the haftarah that I chanted for my Bat Mitzvah celebration, from a record. (Remember those?)

Later, in my mid-twenties, I finally learned the haftarah trope/cantillation (traditional notation for chanting). Yet later, I decided that it was high time that I relearned Haftarat Vaera “officially,” and set out to do just that. It was quite a challenge, given my limited knowledge of Hebrew. I mean, really, “b’kask’sotecha”—twice?! So I was quite proud of my achievement, and looking forward to showing it off in short order.

Imagine my chagrin when, the week before Parshat Vaera, I heard the chazzan/cantor intone, in the course of Birkat HaChodesh, the following: Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat yihye b’yom Shabbat Kodesh . . . (rough translation) The First of the Month of Sh’vat will take place on the day of the Holy Sabbath . . .”

Holy Moses, I’d spent months learning the wrong haftarah!!!!!!!!!!!

In a feat of self-discipline never before attempted and probably never to be repeated—at the time, I was childless and almost 30 years younger than I am now—I practiced Haftarat Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, the special haftarah for a Rosh Chodesh that falls on a Sabbath, six times every day (three times in the morning and three times at night) for the entire week, and somehow managed to acquit myself decently the following Shabbat. So I can say, in all honesty, that I learned Haftarat Shabbat Rosh Chodesh the hard way.

As for poor Haftarat Vaera, it remains the most challenging of all the haftarot that I know, not only because the Hebrew is quite difficult to pronounce in some spots, but also because, since it’s so often superseded by Haftarat Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, it’s the haftarah that I chant the least often. I’m happy to report, though, that, with only one major error (which I corrected after it was pointed out to me by some of our more, um, vocal congregants, my husband among them) and a few hesitations, I managed to pull it out of my hat again this past Shabbat.


Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>