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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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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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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.

  • 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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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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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.

  • 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
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Actually, i believe the briskers use the regular tune for chazon since there is no mourning on shabbos. Also, at least in the german minyanim i've been to, they start the eichah trop from passuk 2 & change back for 16-19 & again from 24 till the end.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Aug 11 at 18:16

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