Pesach Sheni | The lessons of the Second Passover

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum
(Courtesy of Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum)

By Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum

On Monday we celebrated Pesach Sheni (the Second Passover). The first Passover sacrifice was brought in Egypt in the year 2448 on the 14th of Nissan. The following year in 2449, the Jewish people were preparing to bring the Passover sacrifice while in the desert, but there was a group of Jewish people who were impure at that time and could not bring the Passover sacrifice. They approached Moses and asked, “Why should we be deprived and not be able to present G-d’s offering in its time amongst the children of Israel?” (Numbers 9:6-7).

Moses answered them that he will ask G-d what to do. G-d answered that they could have a second chance to be able to bring the Passover sacrifice one month later, on the 14th of Iyar, and they would have a chance to eat it with matzah and bitter herbs, as it was done on the first Passover.

This mitzvah was not only for that year, but applies to all future years as well. Nowadays, even though we cannot bring the Passover offering, the custom is to still celebrate the Second Passover by eating matzah and by omitting the Tachnun prayer from the prayer services.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe discusses an important lesson we can learn from this. It is never too late to change, no matter the circumstances. Even if one was ritually impure, even when one’s impurity was deliberate, it is always possible to put things right. The Jewish nation was told that they will always be given a second chance.

This concept is true in every aspect of our lives. One can always fix what he did wrong. Once a person resolves to change his habits through a growth mindset, he can change his past and head in a more positive direction towards a different outcome. The important thing to keep in mind is that G-d himself gives us the opportunity to grow and repent, always giving us a second chance.

An additional lesson is that the second Passover did not come as an idea from Moses, rather it came after the complaint from the impure Jews who were unable to bring the Passover sacrifice. They understood that their situation was not ideal, and they wanted to fix it. Because it was so important to them, they merited that their complaint was accepted and they were given the opportunity to fix it. We can see from this the greatness of every individual Jew and the power that he has.

Let us all take these lessons to heart. Our future is in our hands. Once we give ourselves the opportunity for growth, G-d will help us find a true and positive path.

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum is the director of the Jewish Uniformed Service Association of Maryland-Chabad, a law enforcement chaplain and Jewish chaplain for Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System.

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