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Friday, 12 August 2022
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A Second Chance

Thirty days after Pesach, on Sunday, the 14th of Iyar, we are about to celebrate a second Pesach. That’s right, Pesach Sheni, as it’s called, is a second opportunity to bring the Paschal offering, for those who somehow missed out the first time around.

This special make-up day came about due to a few people in the desert who came to Moses with a complaint: They wanted to bring the Passover offering, but they couldn’t, because they were impure due to contact with a dead body. Now, burying the dead with dignity is a great mitzvah – for this reason, was it fair that they should miss out on a different mitzvah?

Moses accepted their complaint as valid, and in their honor a new holiday was added, Pesach Sheni, a second chance to offer and eat of the Paschal offering.


These days we have no Holy Temple and no altar, and cannot bring a Paschal offering on any date. For us, the holiday of Pesach Sheni is celebrated only cursorily – we do not say Tachanun in our prayers, and we eat matzah as a token reminder (although, as in the desert, we can eat it with chametz). However, from a spiritual perspective the day is filled with profound meaning and lessons.

1) It is never too late. Regardless of our situation, we can always correct, make up for the deficit. Even when we have no one to blame but ourselves, we can still approach G-d with humility and ask for another chance.

2) We need to ask. We need to learn to assert ourselves, to make our needs known. The people in the desert, if they had been thinking rationally, would never had brought such an odd request. Passover is celebrated on a particular date, to commemorate a specific event, the exodus from Egypt. Once the day passes, it is too late for that particular mitzvah; you need to wait until the next year. To ask for an extension, a do-over, seems like a ridiculous argument.

Yet to those people in the desert, missing out on bringing the Paschal offering with everyone else bothered them enough that they asked for a makeup date. Why, indeed, should they miss out, because they were engaged in a different mitzvah which left them impure? And because they presented their case, it was considered and granted. Had they been too bashful, they would never have gotten their second chance, and we would never have learned this lesson.


And this is why, for nearly 2,000 years, we have been continuously beseeching, asking, demanding of G-d to bring the Redemption. Logically, perhaps our demand has little merit. In what way are we any greater than our ancestors, who did not merit to see the Redemption in their lifetime? If we would analyze the situation rationally we would never have the audacity to make this request. Yet we learn from the mitzvah of Pesach Sheni never to give up – surely there will come a time, very soon, when G-d will finally grant us our deepest desire.

In addition, the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches, not a single prayer is ever wasted. Even if we have not yet merited Moshiach, every prayer and request for his coming hastens the process along just a bit more. Very soon, all these little pushes that we have been giving through our prayers will have the desired effect, and we will finally merit the complete and final Redemption.



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