Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Achrei Mos - 5776

 THE YEAR OF THE GAP

A great surprise is waiting for all members returning from Eretz Yisrael.  This week’s Torah reading is the same one they heard last week!

The reason for this is that we, who did not merit a Pesach in Israel, were celebrating the last day of Pesach last Shabbat and read the special Pesach laining instead of a weekly Paresha.  This week we are back on track to the weekly portion and reading Parashat Acharei Mot.

You are probably wondering: When do we realign with our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael?  Well, you will have to wait until the first Shabbat in August when we will read Pareshat Matot and Masaei.

Many wonder why we don’t go for a doubleheader earlier.  After all, most years we combine several of the Parshiyot in Vayikra, so why not do it this year as well?

Rabbi Yosef Trani -known as the Maharit (1538–1639) of Constantinople explained as follows: The Talmud in Megillah 31b states that “Ezra decreed for Israel that they should read the curses of Leviticus (Pareshat Bechukotai) prior to the festival of Shavuot, so that the year may end along with its curses”.  The Talmud goes on to explain that Shavuot is considered a new year regarding the fruit of the trees.  The Maharit notes that although we read Bechukotai two Shabbatot before Shavuot, we do not want to do it any earlier, since we want people to associate its reading with the message of “the year may end along with its curses.”

However, on a leap year that has Pesach ending on a Friday, (like this year), the dwellers of Eretz Yisrael have no choice but to read Bechukotai three  Shabbatot before Shavuot. Thus, although it is done so in Eretz Yisrael, in Chutz La'aretz we delay the realignment so as to avoid the significant separation of Bechukotai from Shavuot.  Consequently, for the next three months, we are one week behind in Keriat Hatorah.

We welcome back everyone that was away for the Chag!

Shabbat Shalom