There seems to be a wide range of customs with regard to reading the haftara. In some shuls (mostly Chassidic) the one who is called up recites the berachah, and everyone then says the haftara quietly to himself. In other places the oleh (or the baal keriah) reads the passage out loud from a single-volume Tanach. And there are yet others who read it out loud from an actual Navi scroll.

Why is there such disparity between these practices? Is there some kind of dispute as to what the haftara reading requires?

  • +1. And in some the ole or baal k'ria reads it aloud while everyone reads silently. – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 23:17

Taame Haminhagim, kuntres acharon to 341, cites sidur Arizal as saying that each person must read the haftara and cannot fulfill his obligation by hearing it from the ole. In a footnote, TH points us to P'ri M'gadim [EA] 284:5, which says that, since haftara requires a minyan, one must listen to the reader, but that someone reading quietly can listen to the reader; this relates to our question, as it allows one to read along (though it does not mandate it). TH then points us to Eshel Avraham 282:9; however, I checked both EAs (PMG and Buczacz) and found nothing relevant at that paragraph.

I can also relate what my father taught me when I was growing up, which is (when not the ole) to read along quietly with the reader if he's reading other than from a k'laf (scroll), and simply to listen if he has a k'laf. I don't, however, know a source for this.


There are a few pages on the Haftorah practice found in the Breuer Tikkun.

It suggests that the traditional custom was to have one Haftorah reader, just like the Torah reading. That everyone would chime in out loud may have begun to spare from embarrassment someone who was called up to read and wasn't doing very well with it.

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