Beha'alotecha

By Johnny Solomon, June 13, 2008
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“If any man becomes contaminated through a human corpse or on a distant road, whether you or your generations, he shall make the Pesach offering for God in the second month on the fourteenth day”
Numbers 9:10-1

In Parashat Beha’alotecha, we read the law of the Pesach Sheni — the second Passover. A group of men had come in contact with a corpse and were therefore unable to partake in the korban Pesach (Passover offering) at the correct time. Accordingly, they petitioned Moses for an additional opportunity to do so. Moses consulted God, and the result was the establishment of Pesach Sheni, to take place on Iyar 14.

Pesach Sheni continued to feature during the Temple period, and according to the Talmud (Pesachim Page 93a), it provided this second opportunity for those who were ritually impure or physically unable to reach the Temple — whether under coercion, by accident or even deliberately.

It is somewhat surprising that the Torah provides a second chance for those who missed the korban Pesach, especially for those who did so deliberately. Some explain that this was because the punishment for failing to bring the korban Pesach is most severe, as we are told “that soul shall be cut off from his people” (Numbers 9:13).

However, according to the Sefer Hachinuch (13th century), the reason for this second chance is the religious significance of the offering.

The miracles that God performed for the Israelites as they left Egypt are testimony to the existence of God and His role as Creator of the world. When a Jew celebrates Pesach through partaking in the korban Pesach, they are making a public declaration of faith.

Like the korban Pesach, today there are opportunities that shape Jewish identity that are also too important to miss: to read Hebrew, observe Shabbat, study Torah or visit Israel. Fortunately, second chances exist.

As such, the provision of Pesach Sheni teaches us that we all deserve another chance, but it is up to us to take it.

    Last updated: 1:30pm, June 12 2008