All printed chumashim that I've seen list the following consecutive selections as the Ashkenazi hafatarot for Vayakhel and Pekudei:

  • Vayakhel: Melachim I 7:40-50
  • Pekudei: Melachim I 7:51-8:21

(And see this list on Hebrew Wikipedia which says the same.)

However, this (leap) year on Parshat Pekudei I witnessed an Ashkenazi synagogue in Israel read both of these haftarot consecutively i.e. the haftarah for Parshat Pekudei consisted of Melachim I 7:40-8:21.

I subsequently saw this page on Hebrew Wikipedia, which notes that such is the Ashkenazi practice in Israel (except for in a year with two shabbatot chanukah, when Melachim I 7:40-50 was already read as the haftarah for the second shabbat chanukah).

What is the history of and the reason for this practice? (Why) is it unique to communities in Israel?

Some (possibly helpful) background

In most non-leap years Vayakhel and Pekudei are joined and are read together with either Parshat Parah or Parshat HaChodesh. In a non-leap year when they are separate, Vayakhel coincides with Parshat Parah and Pekudei with Parshat HaChodesh.

Thus in a non-leap year the haftarot of neither Vayakhel nor Pekudei are read.

In a leap year, Vayakhel and Pekudei are read separately, but one of the two weeks always coincides with Parshat Shekalim.

Thus, in a leap year, one and only one of the haftarot of Vaykahel and Pekudei are read.

The printed Ashkenazi haftarah for Vayakhel is the same as that of the second shabbat chanukah.

The printed Ashkenazi haftarah for Pekudei consists of the same selection as that of the second day of Sukkot (in the Diaspora) with two extra verses at the beginning.

  • Cool! Seems this is an Israeli extension of a Diasporan practice to read 7:40-8:1 on just Pekudei since the rest was already read for Sukkot
    – Double AA
    Mar 19 '19 at 15:10

As you noted, the generally-cited ashkenazic haftarah for Parshat Pekudei is from Melachim I 7:51-8:21. However, there are two additional customs to be aware of, which may go some way to answering your question.

  1. There exists an ashkenazic custom in the Diaspora to read Melachim I 7:40-8:1 as the haftarah for Pekudei. This is brought down by Maharil (Customs of the Four Parshiyot) in the name of Maharash, and is subsequently quoted by Elya Rabbah (685:23). (In contrast, this custom is not mentioned by Levush (685:6).)

    Maharil explains the rationale for this custom, is that in any event Melachim I 8:2-21 was read as the haftarah for the second day of Sukkot, as opposed to Melachim I 7:40-8:1 which would not otherwise be read at all.

  2. The sephardic haftarah for Parshat Pekudei is generally assumed to be from Melachim I 7:40-50 (see e.g. the Wikipedia list you quoted in your question) i.e. the selection normally listed as the ashkenazic haftarah for Parshat Vayakhel.

R. Y M Tucazinsky writes in Sefer Eretz Yisrael (16) that the custom among the geonei yerushalayim is to read Melachim I 7:40-8:21. He explains this as an application of Maharil's ruling (to read Melachim I 7:40-8:1) to the situation in Israel, where there is no second day of Sukkot, and thus neither Melachim I 7:40-8:1 nor Melachim I 8:2-21 are read at other times during the year. Thus, on Parshat Pekudei the custom is to read both.

In contrast, Aderet in a letter quoted in Yerushatenu vol. II p. 184 writes that he was the one to introduce this practice. He writes that he found the ashkenazic custom in Jerusalem was to read Melachim I 7:40-50, like the sephardic custom. Aderet believed that the more correct practice was to follow the widespread ashkenazic custom of Melachim I 7:51-8:21. However, so as not to (totally) depart from the original custom in Jerusalem, he instructed that both haftarot be read (i.e. Melachim I 7:40-8:21).

As an addendum, we can address a leap year which contains two shabbatot chanukah (year type זשה), in which case Melachim I 7:40-50 is read as haftarah on the second shabbat chanukah.

In such a year, Birur Halachah vol. 6 (Orach Chayyim 428) quotes R. S Z Auerbach and R. S Deblitsky as ruling that the haftarah for Parshat Pekudei comprises only Melachim I 7:51-8:21. This seems to follow R. Tucazinsky's approach: since Melachim I 7:40-50 has already been read earlier in the year, there is no need to read it again.

However, somewhat paradoxically, R. Tucazinsky himself had written in Sefer Eretz Yisrael (ibid.) that both haftarot (i.e. Melachim I 7:40-8:21) are read, even in a year of type זשה.

This position (to my mind) actually accords better with that of Aderet. The sephardic haftarah for Parshat Pekudei is always Melachim I 7:40-50 (even in a year where that was read on the second shabbat chanukah). If the ashkenazic custom in Jerusalem was in line with this, then Aderet's ruling to add Melachim I 7:51-8:21 on top of the pre-existing reading would apply in every year-type, even in a year of type זשה with two shabbatot chanukah.


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