This Shabbat in Israel we will read the double parsha of Tazria-Metzora while in Chutz La’aretz (outside of Israel) Parhsat Shmini will be read.
How did this happen? Why are we reading different Parshiot?
Since Israel’s last day of Pesach was on Friday, last Shabbat we read Parshat Shmini in Israel. Outside of Israel, Shabbat was the last day of Pesach (Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot) so the Torah reading for the eighth day of Pesach was read.
Can we synchronize the parshiot so that those in Israel and those abroad can all be reading the same parsha?
We will eventually be able to synchronize the parshiot but it will take us six weeks for everyone in the world to be reading the same parsha on the same Shabbat.
Why will it take so long?
Rabbi Issachar Susan in his book Tikkun Issachar (1549) explains that there were two minhagim:
The Musta’arabim in Israel (Jews who never left Israel from the destruction of the Second temple in 70 CE through the First Aliya in 1881) separated the parshiot of Behar and Bechukotai (the last opportunity to get in synch with the rest of the world) so that Parshat Bamidbar would be read by everyone on the Shabbat prior to Shavuot.
The Sephardim (Jews who came to Israel after they were expelled from Spain) would separate Tazria and Metzora (the first opportunity to get in synch with the rest of the world).
The Magen Avraham in the Shulchan Aruch Or HaChayim 428:6 codified the minhag of waiting to make the separation until the week of Behar and Bechukotai and this has remained our minhag until today.
It was a tradition in the Land of Israel to keep Tazria & Metzora and Acharei Mot & Kedoshim as double parshiot and therefore we keep that tradition and wait to separate the parshiot when we get to Parshat Behar even if for six weeks we are not in synch with the rest of the world.
There are many other minhagim as well that are observed differently in the Land of Israel. Let’s take Brit Milah (circumcision) for example. There are different verses stated at the beginning of the ceremony in Israel including Tehilim 137:5-6 “If I forget thee O Jerusalem…” and “Shma Yisrael”. Following the Rambam, In Israel the father makes the bracha of Shehechiyanu. This bracha is omitted abroad.
These minhagim remind us that the Land of Israel is a very unique place which isn’t always in synch with the rest of the world!