The Three Weeks is a period of mourning in the Jewish calendar that spans from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av. During this time, Jews commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and other tragic events in Jewish history. As part of the mourning observances, three special Haftarah portions are read on the Shabbatot within the Three Weeks. This is unlike most of the year when the haftarah is connected to the details of the weekly parasha in some way. These Haftarot, taken from the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah, contain powerful messages of rebuke, lamentation, and hope for future redemption.
- Divrei Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah 1:1–2:3): This Haftarah is read on the Shabbat immediately following the 17th of Tammuz. It comes from the book of Jeremiah and begins with an introduction to the prophet Jeremiah and his divine calling. The passage outlines Jeremiah’s mission as a prophet to the nations and his prophetic words concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He is tasked with delivering a stern message to the people, urging them to repent and return to God. Jeremiah’s prophecies contain harsh words of rebuke, warning of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple due to the people’s disobedience and idolatry. The Haftarah ends with a plea for the people to remember their relationship with God during the time of their devotion in the wilderness, emphasizing the need for spiritual return and renewal.
- Shim’u Devar Hashem (Jeremiah 2:4–28 followed by 4:1–2 or 3:4): This Haftarah is read on the Shabbat between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. It continues from the first Haftarah of Divrei Yirmiyahu and presents a continuation of Jeremiah’s prophecies. In this Haftarah, the prophet passionately laments the spiritual decline of the Jewish people, who have forsaken God and turned to idol worship. Jeremiah uses strong language to describe the betrayal of the covenant between God and Israel, likening it to a broken relationship. He calls on the people to remember their faithfulness in the past and to acknowledge the consequences of their current actions. This Haftarah serves as a poignant reminder of the tragic consequences of spiritual disconnection and serves as a call to repentance and return to God.
- Chazon Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:1–27): This Haftarah is read on the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av. It is taken from the book of Isaiah and opens with the verse, “The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” The name “Chazon Yeshayahu” translates to “the vision of Isaiah,” and it reflects the prophet’s powerful prophecy concerning the spiritual and moral failings of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah passionately rebukes the people for their empty rituals and insincere offerings, emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct and social justice. Like the previous Haftarot, this passage calls for repentance and a return to God’s ways. It ends with the promise of God’s forgiveness and restoration, expressing hope for future redemption.
The three Haftarah portions read during the Three Weeks, taken from the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah, convey messages of rebuke, lamentation, and hope for future redemption. Note that Chazon Yeshayahu, the last one, and the one closest to the mourning on Tisha B’Av, it is the most hopeful. They serve as a solemn reminder of the historical tragedies that befell the Jewish people and provide an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and a renewed commitment to spiritual and ethical values. Throughout this period of mourning, these Haftarot guide Jews in their collective remembrance of the past and their collective hope for a future of spiritual renewal and unity.