Rema Orach Chayyim 428:8 mentions a custom to read a special haftarah for a shabbat following a wedding.

Was there ever a custom to read a special haftarah for a shabbat on which a b'rit milah took place? If not, does anyone discuss why there would be difference between this case and that of a wedding?

To further motivate the question, I note that piyyutim were composed and recited for both the shabbat following a wedding and a b’rit milah.


3 Answers 3


Avudraham (Birchos Nisuin) quotes Siddur R' Saadiah Gaon that there is (or was) not just a special haftarah for a chassan, but a special reading as well: Bereishis 24:1-7, which describes Avraham sending his servant to find a wife for Yitzchak. Rabbeinu Bechayei (ibid. 24:3) gives a reason for this:

ועל כן הוקבע בישראל מנהג לקרוא פרשה זו לחתן ביום חתונת להזכיר העם שיזהר בנשואיו, ושלא יקח אשה לשם יופי, שהרי הכתוב אומר (משלי ל״א:ל׳) שקר החן והבל היופי, ולא לשם ממון, כי הממון עשה יעשה לו כנפים כנשר יעוף השמים, ולא לשם שררת הקרובים ובני משפחות שיהיה נעזר בהם ויוכל להשתרר, לפי שהוא נכשל ונענש בכל אחת ואחת משלש כוונות אלו, אבל יצטרך שתהיה כוונתו לשם שמים ושידבק במשפחה הגונה...

This is the reason that it has become the custom of the Jewish people to read this portion (in the presence of the assembled guests) to a bridegroom on the day when he gets married* to remind all the people to be very circumspect in their choice of life-partners. The groom is reminded not to marry a woman because of her physical beauty [...] He should also not marry a woman because she is wealthy [...] The groom should also not marry a woman because she is a member of a powerful and influential family [...] If these are a groom’s considerations in the choice of his wife he will be punished and will likely fail on all three counts. The guiding considerations when choosing a wife have to be reverence for G-d, choosing a family which enjoys a good reputation.

* Or, per Avudraham, on the following Shabbos.

(Keser Shem Tov (R' Shem Tov Gaguine) cites all of these sources and then some, and mentions that nowadays there don't seem to be any communities that read that Torah section from a Sefer Torah, but in various Sephardic communities they read and translate it from a Chumash.)

So the special haftarah went together with a special reading from the Torah. The reason given by Rabbeinu Bechayei naturally doesn't apply to a bris milah, so there was no special Torah reading for it, and without a special Torah reading there wasn't a special haftarah either.

  • It's still around judaism.stackexchange.com/q/80887/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 21:07
  • This sounds nice except if I'm not mistaken the Torah reading and the Haftara were common in different parts of the world (Sephard and Ashkenaz respectively, to overgeneralize).
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 21:08
  • @DoubleAA It may eventually have turned out that way, but see Beis Yosef, Orach Chaim 144:1 (also referenced by R' Gaguine), which cites Ashkenazic (Terumas Hadeshen), Provencal (Rabbeinu Manoach), and Sephardic (R' Yaakov ibn Chaviv and Nimukei Yosef) sources about this haftarah. (Anyway, Avudraham clearly links the Torah reading and the haftarah.)
    – Meir
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 21:27

A reason I have heard was that a Chasan used to get the Maftir on the Shabbos after his wedding, so there was a Minhag to read a special Haftora for him. However by a Bris, the baby for sure does not get an Aliya, and the father does not specifically get Maftir, therefore there is no special Haftora by a Bris.

See Mishna Berura 171:4:21 where he mentions the Minhag to call a Chasan for Maftir.

  • Doesn't a chatan normally get maftir the shabbat preceding his wedding, rather than the one following it?
    – Joel K
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:12
  • @JoelK that's a newer custom. The rama is talking about shabbat sheva brachot
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:46
  • 1
    Was this always the case that the groom got maftir? Why? Maftir used to be the least honorable aliya to get. This feels like a made up anachronistic explanation.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:47
  • 1
    Why does the groom specifically getting maftir make more sense than the father specifically getting maftir? You've just deferred the question.
    – magicker72
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:15
  • 1
    Magen Avraham 285:12 says you should review this haftarah before shabbat in case they call you up and you have to read it. Sounds like in his day it wasn't reserved for the chatan. (Not my proof - heard in the name of R. S. Deblitzky zt"l) (@DoubleAA)
    – Joel K
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 16:58

This article explains that there is an old german jewish custom to have a special haftorah for a chassan. The wording of the haftorah "שוש אשיש" has allusions to a chassan and kallah see

"כחתן יכהן פאר וככלה תעדה כליה , " וכן פרק סב פסוק ד: "ומשוש חתן על כלה ישיש עליך אלהיך "

but you'd need to bring a reason why this should also apply to a bris or any other event. It's not like they are completely parallel. They are two distinct occasions.

  • 1
    "apparently this is not the case for a bris" the question is why
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:49
  • 1
    @DoubleAA As usual you have a negative slant towards what I write. If anything, the question needs a -1 as it supposes that the two mitzvos are exactly parallel and I try to show that but that you glossed over.
    – Geltman
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:08
  • This doesn't answer the question asked. You are right that the OP doesn't give a reason that a bris should have a haftara too. But that doesn't make this an answer
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:09
  • 1
    If your implied claim is there exists a haftara elsewhere that alludes to marriage but there isn't one elsewhere that alludes to milah and we can only borrow existing haftarot, then you should clarify that, but anyway there are haftarot that allude to bris milah like the first day of pesach. So then this answer is wrong.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:21
  • 1
    End of Nedarim 3:11
    – Heshy
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 20:26

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