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The Shabbos before Tisha B'Av gets a very sad Haftorah, known as Chazon. It's Isaiah 1:1--27. (I recommend you open the text in a new window, or else the answers to this question will make no sense.)

Tradition has it that most of it is chanted with the extra-sad tune used for Lamentations (Eicha), instead of the usual Haftorah tune. But which parts? Is there an official source on this? Is it still a matter of local custom? Or even individual preference?

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Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30076 –  msh210 Jul 21 '13 at 23:05

4 Answers 4

The book שערי נחמה (page נ"ה section ט) says the following verses are the ones which are read in regular (non-sad) trop, according to the custom of the yeshivot (the ashkenazi ones, I assume) in Eretz Yisrael:

  • verse 1
  • verses 16 to 19
  • verses 24 to 27

All other verses are read in sad trop.

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Tunisian community reads this Hafatarah with a sad tune from verse 1 until verse 23. From verse 24 to the end, we switch to the special tune used for the hataraf of Yamim Tovim.

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allced, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing your experience with us! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Sep 27 '10 at 13:50

This is just what I've heard/seen over the years:

Most people I've heard start the sad tune at verse 1. Either as it's the introduction; it registers with people because of the word "chazon"; or the fact that a prophet lived through four kings' reign meant the kings weren't lasting very long. But in London they didn't switch to sad until verse 2. (Anyone else hear that?)

I think everyone does 2--15 in the sad tune. But what about 16--19? (I recall only hearing 18 and 19 in normal tune?)

20--23 are sad again.

I think I've heard different things about 24 and 25. It says "I'll get rid of all your dross"; if that means people will behave better, that's happy; if that means a lot of people will die, that's sad.

26 and 27 are much happier, and thus back to normal tune.

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I don't think it's a universal custom to do this anyway. The Chabad custom (I mention it only because I'm familiar with it; I don't know whether it's unique to them, though) is to read this haftarah - and also, by the way, the one for Tisha Be'Av - with normal haftarah trop.

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Oh that's right, I forgot Chabad-Lubavitch uses normal trop for all Haftorahs. (What about the "Eicah esa levadi" verse in Devarim?) –  Shalom Jun 23 '10 at 15:31
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Same thing. The only verses (outside of Eichah itself) that, in the Chabad custom, are read with those trop are the sad verses in Esther: 2:6, the last three words of 3:15, 4:1, 4:3b, and the last three words of 4:16. Some Chabad baalei keriah also do the same in 1:7 (וכלים מכלים שונים) and 8:6. –  Alex Jun 23 '10 at 21:29

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