TORAH TUESDAYS: PESACH SHEINI
SECOND CHANCE AHEAD
BY HENNIE BLACK
This Sunday, on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, we will be celebrating Pesach Sheini—a second Pesach. Why do we need to have a second go at Pesach?
We are told that there were Jews who were not able to partake in the Pesach sacrifice for reasons of impurity. They came to Moshe and Aharon and said, “Why should we be left out? We also want the opportunity to bring this offering.” Others may have lived too far to perform the Paschal lamb offering during the month of Nissan. That is why those who may have missed out in partaking of the Pesach offering the first time around are given the opportunity to fulfill this obligation a month later.
This is amazing! Because there were a few individuals who did not want to miss out on something important and because they insisted on being given a second chance, a second holiday was instituted.
There is no other case in the Torah where a few people were given another chance to partake in a mitzvah on an alternate date. If we miss hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashana or we don’t build a sukkah on Sukkot, we don’t have a makeup day. We are given no extensions. This does not exist in the in the secular calendar either.
This is very strange indeed! Why was this exceptional circumstance instituted? Because these few individuals expressed their dismay at missing out on the opportunity to partake of the Paschal sacrifice the first time and because they were eager to connect to the divine, G-d, in effect, said, “How can I not give them this opportunity?”
It is always possible to have a second chance. Yes, there are failures and missed opportunities, but it is not the end of the story; we always have an opportunity to fix what we messed up.
Pesach Sheini represents the power of teshuvah, the power of return. Teshuvah is commonly translated as repentance, but it is much more than turning a new leaf and achieving forgiveness for past sins. It is the power to go back in time and reframe the past with behaviours that we take in the present.
A Jew always has a second chance. They should never be satisfied with their present spiritual standing; there is always the opportunity to correct past mistakes and have another go at doing better the second time around.
As we count the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot, let us take the time to reflect upon areas that we wish to grow in and improve upon. As we approach Shavuot, let us take the time to ask, “Am I better today than yesterday?” If not, let’s reset the past; let’s reframe the present, and let’s grow into a new future.