Hacking the Haftorah: VaYeshev

This series explores the connection between the weekly Torah portion read in synagogues (Parashat HaShavuah) and the Haftorah reading that follows from the writings of the prophets.

The Five Books of Moses are read publicly in synagogues on Shabbat morning and completed over the course of a year. There is an ancient custom to follow this with a portion from the writings of the Prophets. The most common view of the origin of this practice is that it dates back to around 165BCE. At that time, the Syrian/Greek empire occupied Israel under the rule of Antiochos the 4th. He issued many decrees banning the practice of Judaism, including the prohibition against publicly reading from the Torah (Five Books of Moses).

In response, the sages chose passages from the writings of the prophets (like Isaiah) to take the place of the Torah portion that was pre-empted. This reading is called the Haftorah. Often, the connection between the Torah portion and the Haftorah is obvious, but usually there are deeper connections under the surface. This series explores these connections.

This video explores the Torah portion of VaYeshev which is from Genesis chapters 37-40. The regular Haftorah that we will discuss in this video is from Amos 2:6 – 3:8. During years when the holiday of Chanukah falls out during the portion of VaYeshev, there is a special Haftorah reading from the prophet Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7.

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