But if, as happens fairly often, the eighth day of Passover is on a Saturday, then in Israel, which considers the eighth day a regular non-festival Sabbath, the regular cycle of Torah reading resumes. Therefore Israel is one week ahead of the rest of the Jewish world in the Torah cycle. But not for long! Israel continues ahead until they come to the first double portion. On Pesach, which usually takes place on the Sedra Tzav, the dislocation continues for only two weeks, when the double portion Sazria-Mezoro comes. That week Israel just reads Sazria separately, and the next week Mezoro separately, and thus the rest of world Jewry catches up with them.
I wrote in response:
But I'm not sure this is an accurate description of Israeli practice. Or perhaps there are multiple practices in Israel (though that's a little bit hard to believe, with the pervasiveness of the Jewish calendar there), or the practice has changed. In my post on single and double Torah portions, I wrote (based on Israeli calendars) that in this case, Israelis read Behar and Bechukotai separately (not Tazria and Metzora), even though that's not the next opportunity to get everyone back in sync. I don't know why that is, but it seems to be supported by empirical evidence. Can anyone shed light on this?
And now it turns out that the plot has thickened. I looked into this issue and found that the Magen Avraham and the Mishnah Berurah (both at 428:4) both say that there are two different minhagim in Israel in this situation: separating Tazria-Metzora, and separating Behar-Bechukotai.
So there are actually 3 different possible calendars of Torah reading:
Shabbat 2-day yom tov 1-day yom tov #1 1-day yom tov #2 ======= ============= ================ ================ 15 Nisan 1st day Pesach 1st day Pesach 1st day Pesach 22 Nisan 8th day Pesach Shemini Shemini 29 Nisan Shemini Tazria Tazria-Metzora 6 Iyar Tazria-Metzora Metzora Acharei-Kedoshim 13 Iyar Acharei-Kedoshim Acharei-Kedoshim Emor 20 Iyar Emor Emor Behar 27 Iyar Behar-Bechukotai Behar-Bechukotai Bechukotai 5 Sivan Bemidbar Bemidbar BemidbarFor 1-day yom tov communities, the advantage of calendar #1 is that it minimizes the amount of time that 1-day and 2-day communities are out of sync (while doing so in a way that 1-day communities can maintain their integrity and self-respect, unlike some of the solutions currently in use in Reform congregations). According to an article by R. Mordecai Kornfeld, the reason for calendar #2 is that "it is Behar and Bechukotai which are kept apart, because they were joined together not by virtue of a similarity between them but only out of necessity", in contrast to Vayakheil-Pekudei, Tazria-Metzora, and Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, which all have thematic connections between the two parshiyot. That article presents evidence for the thesis that "whatever the criteria are for deciding whether to combine two particular Parshiot or to read them separately, bridging the gap between the Jews of Israel and those of the diaspora does *not* seem to play a major role, if any at all." And indeed, as far as I can tell, the modern Israeli calendars I have found use calendar #2.
So I'm full of questions:
- Is it historically accurate that the two Israeli calendars once coexisted? (The authors of the Magen Avraham and the Mishnah Berurah didn't live in Israel, so they wouldn't have had firsthand knowledge.)
- Does anyone in Israel today use calendar #1?
- If the answer to the first question is yes, then how, when, and why did calendar #2 become dominant in Israel? (Kornfeld suggests a "why", but doesn't cite a source and may just be speculating.)
- Do self-respecting Diaspora 1-day yom tov communities (i.e. those that don't read the "8th day of Pesach" reading on a Shabbat that they don't consider yom tov, and don't split a parashah over two weeks) use calendar #1, #2, or some of each?