The Second Passover
By Chaim Lazer
Have you ever heard of the holiday called Pesach Sheni. It means the second Passover. On the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Iyar, exactly one month after the day before Passover, we have a special holiday that is called Pesach Sheni, the second Passover. This year, 2008, the second Passover comes on Monday, May 19th. It is a real holiday and today many even celebrate it. How and when did it come to be? Let me explain:
On the day before Passover, on the fourteenth of Nissan, was the day when the Paschal Lamb was brought to the holy Temple to be offered on the holy Altar. Only those who were of ritual purity could offer the Paschal lamb. Anyone who was defiled (ritually impure) could not bring the Paschal lamb to the holy Temple.
In order not to take away from this great mitzvah and spiritual infusing experience, G-d in His great mercy commanded that anyone who was unable to bring the Paschal sacrifice at the proper time, either because they were impure or too far away could bring in one month later on the fourteenth of Iyar. They were to eat it together with matzoth and bitter herbs, just like it was done on Passover.
The first Pesach Sheni was observed on the second year after the Jews left Egypt. This was because there were men who were ritually defiled from carrying the remains of Joseph from Egypt to Israel to be buried in Shechem (Nabulus of today). These men could not bring the required Paschal lamb along side of the rest of the Jews. They came to Moses and asked him what they could do, as they also wanted to enjoy the benefit of a Passover experience. Moses then asked G-d who gave the special mitzvah.
Today, although we are able to live in our holy land, yet the holy Temple has yet to be rebuilt. We are all in a state of ritual impurity and many of us are distant from G-d. Yet the underlying principle of Pesach Sheni still applies. All who desire to bring their Pascal lamb and enjoy the spiritual wealth of eating of the true Pascal lamb, sit down and eat matzo on this day.
Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, come to tell us that it is never too late to return to G-d. No matter how far we have wandered from the true path to G-d, no matter how much we have become defiled from the spiritual void, G-d in his infinite kindness gives us a second chance.
Matzah is not like bread; bread spoils after a few days; matzah does not. Bread is puffed up and it spoils; matzah is lowly and it endures for a long time without spoiling. People who are puffed up have their day of glory and then they are gone. It is the humble who endure and continue the chain of Jewish life. Let us remember this on the second Passover when we eat our leftover matzah: We shall continue; we shall endure.
Enjoy the day by having a piece of matzah, even though your house is full with bread.
from the May 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine