But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? - Zech 1:6a
Haftarah is the custom of reading from the Nevi'im (prophets) immediately following the Torah service performed on Shabbat or festivals. The person who receives the honor of reading the Haftarah is referred to either as the Ba'al Haftarah or the Maftir, the "one who concludes" the reading of the Torah.
Haftarah comes from the root fatar, meaning to dismiss or conclude. Haftarah is likened to the dessert of a meal, since the reading of the Prophets completes the Torah reading of the service.
Being called up for the haftarah blessing is considered a great honor in most synagogues.
Generally the Haftarah is on a subject related to the Torah portion (except on Holidays, when the reading usually relates to the festival). In some synagogues, the Maftir will first read the last (of the seven) aliyot of the Torah and then recite the blessing before the Haftarah.
Note: The person who reads the Haftarah also reads the Maftir aliyah. The reason that the Ba'al Haftarah receives the additional maftir aliyah rather than one of the seven mandated aliyot is to avoid giving the impression that the Haftarah (which comes from the prophetic section of the Hebrew Bible) is of equal sanctity as the Torah portion. By reading both a short repeat of the Torah reading and a section of Prophets (thus equating the Haftarah with a less important Torah portion), the Haftarah demonstrates that the Haftarah is less sacred than the main Torah reading. On festivals and certain special Sabbaths, the maftir is a different reading from another part of the Torah.
Blessing Before the Haftarah
The following is recited (chanted) before reading the Haftarah portion:
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has chosen good prophets and was pleased with their words that were uttered with truth. Blessed are You, Adonai, who chooses the Torah and Moses, God's servant, and Israel, God's people, and the prophets of truth and righteousness.
The following is recited (chanted) after reading the Haftarah portion:
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, rock of all eternities, righteous in all generations, the faithful God, who says and does, who speaks and fulfills, all of whose words are true. Faithful are you, LORD our God, and faithful are your words. Not one of your words turns back unfulfilled, for You, O God, are a faithful and compassionate King. Blessed are You, LORD, the God who is faithful in all His words.