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It is mechanically possible, like this year, that parshas Vayelech is actually read twice in one year - last year it was after Rosh haShanah on Shabbos Shuvah, and this year - together with Nitzavim, on the last Shabbos of the year. I think Vayelech is the only parsha with this property.

What is special about (the content of) Vayelech that it should have this ability to be read twice in a year?

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It also is mechanically possible that it is not read at all in one year. –  Gershon Gold Sep 3 '13 at 16:43
    
@IsaacMoses Thank you for edits, must have been sleeping when I was writing it. –  gt6989b Sep 3 '13 at 17:17
    
gt6989b, thank @GershonGold for both noticing first and making the finishing touch on the edits :) –  Isaac Moses Sep 3 '13 at 17:44
    
@GershonGold Thank you very much. I appreciate both your comment (didn't think of it) and your edits. Kesiva vechasima tova. –  gt6989b Sep 3 '13 at 18:40
    
Can you indicate why you assume the content (as opposed to the placement) has anything to do with it? –  Double AA Sep 4 '13 at 0:02

1 Answer 1

The reason actually has nothing to do with VaYelech, but with Ki-Savo.

The Gemara in Megillah 31b says that the curses in Devarim (Ki-Savo) have to be read before Rosh Hashana - so as to end the year and its curses.

We then add one Parsha as a break, so that we don't enter the new year from the curses.

We then have a practical issue how to stretch/squeeze the remainder of the Torah in before Simchat Torah. So in years with 2 "free" Shabatot between Rosh Hashana and Sukkoth (excluding Yom Kippour) we have to split Nitzavim from Vayelech. In years with only 1 free Shabbat, we read them together, before Rosh Hashana.

As to what is intrinsically special about VaYelech:

  • It's the Shortest Sedra
  • Most of its 30 verses talk about Moshe's upcoming death and forecasting the Yidden's behaviour.
  • It has the last 2 Mitzvos:
    • (612): The once-in-7-year Hakhel gathering
    • (613): Writing a Sefer Torah

Not sure why we'd want to read about this twice in some years and not at all in others.

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You gave a mechanical reason which I knew as well. That's not what the question asked for. There are no coincidences - if the calendar was set up that way, it means there must be something instrinsic to Vayelech, not that it comes only through 3rd party stuff... –  gt6989b Sep 9 '13 at 20:33
    
@gt6989b - see what I added... not that it answers the question. –  Danny Schoemann Sep 10 '13 at 12:39
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Worth noting that the Haazinu song must be split into 6 aliyot, and that the text after the song cannot possibly be split into 14 aliyot. So you can't have any extra parshiyot there. If you want to read the Teshuva parts of Nitzavim before RH, then there is no other way to split up the parshas, other than 1 parsha before and after Haazinu. Moreover, the only way to combine the parshas (in a year where RH is on Thursday or Saturday) is to put Vayelech with Nitzavim because Haazinu has to stay separate so it can have its 6 aliya split. –  Double AA Sep 10 '13 at 17:35
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@DoubleAA, I think that's the real answer: "you want to read the Teshuva parts of Nitzavim before RH" - the rest is "machanical" as Dmitry called it. –  Danny Schoemann Sep 11 '13 at 9:28

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