People often assume that, because I know how to read Torah, I also know how to read Haftorah. After all, you read Haftorah from a book, not a scroll, and all the nikud (vowels and punctuation) and ta'amim(cantilations) are there, right in front of you.
But I never learned the meloday for Haftorah.
I always wanted to learn, but never found the time....
As my youngest daughter's Bat Mitzvah approached, I had the idea that if she learned to read her entire parsha (Torah portion), then I would learn to read the Haftorah. I really liked this idea, but even as she approached the end of her learning, I still had not found the time.
Thursday night, before her Bat Mitzvah Shabbat, I realized I either have to assign someone else to read the Haftorah or I have to learn it, FAST!
Providence shined on me and, that evening, my good friend, RJ, who is an amazing reader called to ask if I needed any help.
"I have a crazy question for you...." I began, "Can you come over tomorrow and teach me to read Haftorah?"
She laughed. Who wouldn't? Who learns a new trope in one day?
I know the signs and names of the ta'amim, so that makes the starting point a little easier, but learning all the notes in one day is tall order. I also have a pretty good ear for music, so I felt confident (perhaps overly so) that I could do it.
RJ agreed to come by on Friday and teach me whatever she could.
Some ta'amim were easier for me to learn, others were quite difficult. We did not have much time, but RJ was very encouraging.
At the end of our session, I had it down. But.... could I remember it?
After my daughter read her parsha so beautifully... I was up.
I was not at all confident.
I asked RJ to stand next to me, so she could prompt me for the three ta'amim I had difficulty remembering (each appeared only once in my reading).
For someone who learned both the ta'amim and the Haftorah the day before, my reading was pretty good.
But, as one of my brutally honest friends said, "I've heard you do better."
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,