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Pesach Sheini

דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֣ישׁ אִ֣ישׁ כִּי־יִֽהְיֶ֥ה טָמֵ֣א | לָנֶ֡פֶשׁ אוֹ֩ בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜ה֗ לָכֶ֗ם א֚וֹ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעָ֥שָׂה פֶ֖סַח לַֽה': בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בְּאַרְבָּעָ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר י֛וֹם בֵּ֥ין הָֽעַרְבַּ֖יִם יַֽעֲשׂ֣וּ אֹת֑וֹ עַל־מַצּ֥וֹת וּמְרֹרִ֖ים יֹֽאכְלֻֽהוּ:

Speak to the children of Israel saying, Any person who becomes unclean from [contact with] the dead, or is on a distant journey, whether among you or in future generations, he shall make a Passover sacrifice for the Lord. In the second month, on the fourteenth day, in the afternoon, they shall make it; they shall eat it with unleavened cakes and bitter herbs. (Bamidbar 9:10-11)

Pesach Sheini, also known as the "Second Passover," is a unique holiday that occurs on the 14th day of Iyar, exactly one month after the actual holiday of Pesach in Nisan. The origins of this holiday can be found in Parshat Bahaalotcha, where we learn about a group of Bnei Yisral who were tamei (impure) and were thus unable to bring the Passover offering on the 14th of Nisan, with everybody else. It’s important to note that this was the first anniversary of Bnei Yisrael leaving Egypt - the second celebration of Pesach for the nation.

These people approached Moshe and Aharon because they were unable to participate in the Korban Pesach (Passover offering), but very much wanted to fulfill this mitzvah. Moshe did not initially have an answer for them. So God responded with the commandment to keep Pesach Sheini, one month after Pesach. This would be an opportunity for anyone who was impure or too far away from the Bet HaMikdash to be able to participate in the Korban Pesach. The same sacrifice would be offered, eating it on matzah and marror, just like on Pesach. But the rest of the holiday would not apply, just the mitzvah of the sacrifice (the rest of the holiday could still be observed by someone impure or far away).

The Gemara in Massechet Pesachim defines what is meant by too far away from the Bet HaMikdash as being farther than the city of Modiin. Anyone closer would have ample opportunity to come to Jerusalem. This definition is important, because anyone who was not impure, or not too far away could NOT be exempted from the normal Pesach offering, and thus would not be able to take advantage of Pesach Sheini.

Throughout our halachot, we have second chances and opportunities for teshuva (repentance), but only for those who are truly sincere. For example, Hoshana Raba, on the 7th day of Sukkot is a second chance to repent and be sealed in the Book of Life, just like on Yom Kippur. But neither Hoshana Raba nor Pesach Sheini are opportunities to skip Yom Kippur or Pesach. Rather, they are second chances for someone who tried but just couldn’t get it right.

One more interesting note about Pesach Sheini. The Torah includes a reminder about their being one law for the convert, and Jew alike for Korban Pesach. In other words, the convert, who did NOT participate in the exodus from Egypt, is still required to bring the same Korban at the same time as everyone else (Rashi on Bamidbar 9:14). In other words, if he converted after Pesach, he does not immediately bring the Korban. Instead, he waits till next year, and brings his sacrifice just like everyone else.

May we all merit to see the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash, so that next year we will all be together in Jerusalem eating our Korban Pesach

לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה!



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