The Torah and Haftorah Readings are read in a special and traditional way. They are actually sung using a system similar to musical notes, called the “Teamei Hamikra.” The “Teamei Hamikra” also serve to indicate where each sentence begins and ends .They guide the Torah Reader as to which syllable to emphasize and what intonation to use. A person that is reading the Torah or the Haftorah during the Synagogue service must read according to the notes of the “Teamei Hamikra.” The different tunes and ways of reading have been passed down from generation to generation. The tunes differ according to place of origin. Some well known versions of liturgical format (called the “Nusach”) are the Yerushalmi, the Morrocan, the Halabi, the Ashkenazi, and the Yemenite “Nusach”. There are different “Teamim” used for the the “Maftir”, for the Haftorah, and for the “Hamesh Megilot” ( a set of five books which include: “Megilat Esther”, “Megilat Eicha”, “Megilat Shir Hashirim”, “Megilat Kohelet”, and “Megilat Ruth”).
In this section we will present the different “Teamei Hamikra” together with examples of how to sing/ pronounce them correctly .It should be pointed out that the “Teamim” are different than the dots and lines system which is used in Hebrew writing (“Nikkud”). For example, unlike the dots and lines, the location of the “Teamim” is very important. The word is sung according to where the note is placed, (e.g. under or above the word). Many times we find two notes around one word, which means that a combination of the two notes is used. These combinations are basic “Teamim”, which appear very often. Some notes connect the words and create a sentence, while others indicate that the sentence has ended.
The Torah scrolls in the Synagogue do not have the “Teamim” written in them. For that reason, the person reading the Torah must study the Reading well in advance in order to know how to read it correctly. The correct reading and proper use of the “Teamim is considered a fundamental part of the Torah Reading. This is rooted in a Tradition that has been a legacy of the Jewish People throughout many generations.