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If the Milk Can’t Be Unspilled, Why Not Cry?

If the Milk Can’t Be Unspilled, Why Not Cry?


Pesach Sheni, “the Second Passover,” is observed on the fourteenth of Iyar.

The origin of this semi-holiday is quite fascinating. On the first anniversary of the Exodus, while all the Jews were occupied with preparing their lambs for the annual Paschal offering, Moses was approached by a small group of Jews who were ritually impure and thus excluded from offering, or partaking of, the Paschal lamb. They weren’t satisfied with their “exemption” from this Passover mitzvah. “Why should we be deprived?” they exclaimed. “We, too, want to experience the spiritual freedom gained by participating in the Paschal service!”

Moses agreed to convey their grievance to the Almighty, and incredibly, the heartfelt wishes of this small group caused G‑d to add a mitzvah to the Torah. G‑d instructed that from that year and onwards, all those who weren’t capable of offering the Paschal Lamb in its proper time on the fourteenth of Nissan, due to impurity or distance from the Temple, should offer the Paschal lamb exactly one month later, on the fourteenth of Iyar.

Jewish holidays are not commemorations of historical events; rather, they are spiritual reenactments. No two holidays are alike—every holiday features a distinct spiritual energy, offering us the opportunity to gain inspiration and the necessary spiritual powers in a specific area of our service of G‑d. On Passover we receive the strength to liberate ourselves from our natural enslavement to our impulses and destructive habits; on Shavuot we tap into the core of the Torah, recommitting ourselves to connecting with G‑d through its study; and on Sukkot we fill the reservoirs of our hearts with true joy. We stock up on these unique spiritual powers, enough to last us for an entire year, until the holiday returns once again. The mitzvot unique to each holiday are tools which enable us to tap into the spiritual energies present at that time.

Immediately after Passover we are taught an important lesson, a lesson which applies to all the following holidays, tooPassover is the first holiday of the year, as the “holiday calendar” commences on the first of Nissan. Immediately after this holiday we are taught an important lesson, a lesson which applies to all the following holidays too. Indeed, there is a biblically mandated designated time for Passover, but a person who for one reason or another has missed out and did not take advantage of the benefits which the holiday has to offer can have a personal Passover whenever he sincerely yearns for divine assistance in gaining personal redemption.

According to Kabbalah, the months of Nissan and Iyar are diametrical opposites. Nissan is a month pervaded by divine kindness: the month when G‑d redeemed—and redeems—even those who are unworthy of redemption. Iyar, on the other hand, is a month of discipline and self-improvement: the month when we count the Omer and are involved in personal refinement in order to earn the right to receive the Torah in the following month. Yet, the penitent Jew has the ability to experience a Nissan redemptive holiday even during the month of Iyar!

The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late. Never think, “Everyone else has already left Egypt weeks ago, and is well on their way toward receiving the Torah—and I haven’t even begun my spiritual journey! I’m impure!” Don’t despair; you too can make the Passover leap and join everyone else in their state of Redemption, worthy of receiving the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot.

It’s no use crying over spilled milk, because G‑d has an infinite supply of milk which can be accessed anytime—provided that we have a sincere thirst, and express to Him this feeling.

May we soon merit to see the coming of Moshiach, when we—who in our current exiled condition are “impure” due to our “distance” from G‑d—will all bring the Paschal lamb in the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Amen!

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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המקום נשרפ יושפ רם U.P. of Michigan September 7, 2016

I needed this Torah portion today even though it is not current in the sense of weekly schedule. Just gained multiple levels of understanding wasn't too late in the year for this portion, it isn't too late to have a better life. It isnt too late to start over at 30. Interestingly enough, I was in the process of rededicating my every thought, word, moment, and breath to G-d, and this was the Tora portion the day I was born, which I didn't know but felt to be relevant right now 30 years later so I looked it up, and it is as if G-d made that portion for that week for this one purpose but I am not saying He did. Reply

Anonymous La May 3, 2015

Just perfect Rabbi Naftali I was looking for Article to give to a person who faild to get married with a girl he wanted to. Hopfully your Torah words can help him more not to give up thanks Reply

Jeff February 18, 2013

Thanks! Thanks, Chana. Reply

Chana Benjaminson February 18, 2013

To Jeff The story is recorded in Numbers 9:7, see this link for the text in Hebrew and English Reply

Jeff February 18, 2013

Great perspective! Where is the story of the group approaching Moses about not being able to celebrate Passover? Reply

nechama L Z 0ak park + WB, MI May 19, 2011

"infinite supply of milk" Thank you, for reminding us of the finite milk and Infinite Supplier. Only Good! Reply

Sonia NY, NY May 17, 2011

Wonderful insight Thank you so much! This Pesach I tried to truly focus on becoming free from personal enslavement to bad habits and issues, and what a fresh and delightful thought that we have access to this energy all year round! And learn it from Pesach Sheni lesson. thank you! Reply

Anonymous Princeton, NJ April 28, 2010

Pesach Sheni What a true gift, to be able to start over and not remained enslaved because you feel unworthy. With my whole heart and soul, I pray that this Holy Day will be the beginning of a new life of Torah and Mitzvot for me. Reply

Susan Fayetteville April 28, 2010

beautiful That is such a beautiful interpretation! Reply

anne denmark via May 7, 2009

Thanks for this refreshing viewpoint of pesach sheni. Reply

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