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I think the title is essentially my question. Fast days are the only time when a haftorah is said during mincha. What makes fast days unique to have a haftorah recited then?

  • Not everyone has a Haftorah on all fast days, or has the same one on certain of them. – Double AA Jun 21 '15 at 20:27
  • My first thought was it's the same reason that individuals only recite Aneinu at Mincha; by Mincha time, you can be reasonably confident that people who are still fasting will complete their fast (Shulchan Aruch 565:3; alternatively, having fasted past chatzos has some significance in and of itself). But the sha"tz still says Aneinu, so why not just have him read the haftara in the morning, too, and thereby mitigate this concern by doubling down on the same person? (Note that on Tish'a B'Av, we do recite "Asof Asifeim" in the morning in addition to "Dirshu" in the afternoon). – Fred Jun 21 '15 at 21:24
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    @Fred More likely related to Megilla 30b. Not reciting Aneinu in the morning is a custom in only some communities and of relatively recent vintage. – Double AA Jun 22 '15 at 2:44
  • @DoubleAA Yeah, it looks like that's it. As far as Aneinu, I meant according to the custom mentioned in the Rama; I was proposing that maybe the afternoon haftara custom derived from a similar source ("relatively recent," as you put it). But anyway, it looks like you're right instead. – Fred Jun 22 '15 at 3:15
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    @Fred I think I read that the reason Haftarah is not recited during Shacahrit on fast days is b/c of tircha d'tzibur. This would explain why Tish'a B'Av is an exception since the minhag is not to work until midday. – DanF Jun 22 '15 at 15:52
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+100

Tosfos to Megila 21a “Hakorei” explains why the haftorah is read at Mincha.

והטעם שמפטיר במנחה בתענית ולא בשחרית משום דכתיב בה שמרו משפט ועשו צדקה (ישעיה נו)ואגרא דתעניתא צדקתא לעת ערב ומש"ה נכון לאומרו בערב אחר שעשו צדקה

He says that the reward of the fast-day is the charity given on that day. It could be assumed that by the time of mincha, people would have given their charity and so it would be appropriate to read the haftorah (Isaiah 55 & 56) which urges us to שִׁמְרוּ מִשְׁפָּט וַעֲשׂוּ צְדָקָה literally “Keep justice and practice righteousness” but צְדָקָה is also understood as tzedaka (charity).

(FYI see See Rambam Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 9: Halocho (4) :On fast days, we distribute food to the poor. (Commentary: On fast days, it was customary to distribute food to the poor after the evening service at the conclusion of the fast. Since the poor would look forward to this meal and rely on it to break their fast. If it was not provided to them, they would go to bed without food (Rashi, Sanhedrin 35a). ))

From here one could deduce that the reason to read this haftorah is to emphasize the meaning of the fast day. Relevant extracts from the haftorah to justify my assertion:

Seek the Lord when He is found, call Him when He is near.

The wicked shall give up his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts, and he shall return to the Lord, Who shall have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.

So says the Lord, Keep justice and give charity, for My salvation is near to come, and My benevolence to be revealed.

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The source for reading the Haftara at Mincha on a fast day is Taanis 12b end of page.

אמר אביי מצפרא עד פלגא דיומא מעיינינן במילי דמתא מכאן ואילך ריבעא דיומא קרינן בספרא ואפטרתא מכאן ואילך בעינן רחמי

רש"י

ריבעא דיומא קרו ויחל משה ומפטירין דרשו ה בהמצאו

Abaye says that from morning to noon people are busy therefore the Haftara is read in the afternoon.

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    Thanks. But it's not pshita that my or most reader's Aramaic is great, so, if you can, translate or summarize the above. Also, considering that Rash"i is mentioned, I think you should edit this to indicate that this is from Tosfot or whomever. I'd be really surprised if the Gemarah knew who Rash"i was. – DanF Dec 22 '15 at 3:34
  • Gershon - reminder if you can translate or summarize the above. – DanF Jul 23 at 19:45
  • @DanF translation is at the bottom - Abaye says that from morning to noon people are busy therefore the Haftara is read in the afternoon. – Gershon Gold Jul 24 at 21:20

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