Dear Reader,

You’ve taken a wrong turn. You’ve made a decision that you now recognize is going to cost you dearly. Is there any way to get back on track? Can you make up for the lost time and momentum? Is the path of return too tedious and too impossibly difficult?

Judaism has an empowering and uplifting message, learned from the fascinating holiday of Pesach Sheni, “the Second Passover.”

In the first year after the Exodus, the Jewish people were instructed to bring the Paschal sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan and eat it that evening, just as they had done the previous year. There were individuals, however, who had become ritually impure and could not bring the offering. They approached Moses, asking for some recourse.

"We are ritually unclean (because of contact) with a dead person, but why should we be deprived, that we may not offer the offering of G‑d in its appointed season among the children of Israel?"

And Moses said to them: "Stand by, and I will hear what G‑d will command concerning you." (Numbers 9:7-8)

In response, G‑d established the 14th of Iyar as a Second Passover. Anyone who did not bring a Passover offering—because of impurity—was given the opportunity to compensate for his shortcoming by bringing an offering on Pesach Sheni.

And G‑d spoke to Moses saying:"…If any man of you, or of your future generations, shall be impure by reason of contact with a dead body, or be on a journey afar off, he shall keep the Passover to G‑d. On the fourteenth day of the second month at evening they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs…" (Numbers 9:9-11)

There are three points that I find fascinating about this holiday:

1) Unlike other holidays, which were unilaterally commanded by G‑d, this holiday was inspired in response to the outcry of individuals.

2) Unlike Passover, which is seven days in length, this holiday accomplishes its purpose in only one day.

3) The holiday falls a month after Passover.

The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that it’s never too late.

No one is ever too lost to make amends in their lives. When we stray or mess up, if we recognize how far gone we are and we are shaken to our core, we can rebound. But what’s fascinating is that this rebounding is not the regular step-by-step conventional formula. In a single instant—or in this case, in a single day—rather than the seven-day process of Passover, we can redefine our past and mold our future.

But for this to be real, it needs to come from deep within. It’s all about the inner cry—the resolve that we have to make change a reality in our lives.

And that is why Pesach Sheni needed to happen through our own motivation, by us crying out to G‑d that we shouldn’t be left out. This is also why it is celebrated in the month of Iyar, whose theme is individual endeavor, as exemplified through the counting of the Omer and our work on self-refinement.

We all mess up. We weren’t created as perfect individuals who can always make balanced judgements. But the good news is that we don’t need to. Even when we make the worst possible error, there is no cause for despair. Quite the contrary, there is cause for acknowledgement, resolve and then action.

As a great quote reads: There are those who debate whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. And then there are those who realize that the glass is refillable.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW