You missed the flight. You forgot to file before the deadline. You mislaid her number. You downloaded a virus. You thought your anniversary was next week. You left your keys in the car. You forgot to hang up before announcing what you really think about him. You blew it!

Someone else got the job. The earlier bird got your worm. She said "Yes" to the other guy. Your childhood photos are plastered all over cyberspace. Your credit rating is a mess. You snoozed, you lost.

Not every error is recoverable, some mistakes are forever. It's an unfortunate consequence of existence, that every blunder, blown chance and missed opportunity is recorded in life's ledger with indelible ink. You can try to forget, you can lie and deny, but you're the one who messed up and you'll forever wear the consequences.

Not every error is recoverable, some mistakes are forever.

Welcome Back

There was a group of Jews who approached Moses with a problem. They'd been ritually impure on Pesach and had missed out on offering the Paschal sacrifice; was there anything Moses could suggest?

G‑d told Moses to give them a second chance. One month to the day after Pesach we celebrate Pesach Sheni when all those who've been missing or unable to observe the festival the first time around get a makeup opportunity.

Pesach Sheni has become a sort of holiday celebrating life's second chance. In the words of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, and elaborated on many times by the Rebbe, Es iz nitoh kein farfalen - it's never too late. You can always make good on the mistakes of the past. G‑d is always willing and waiting for us to express sincere regret and be welcomed back into the fold.

But is that really true? Can every mistake really be rectified? I don't think so. You cannot turn back time and Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together again. Some mistakes are permanent; not every stain comes out in the wash and not every broken relationship can be repaired. Why should I believe that I can always repair the past when the evidence of my own eyes proves the opposite?

Life's Rewind Button

Obviously the explanation of es iz nitoh kein fafalen must be more sophisticated than just the specious claim that "everything can be fixed." Not everything can be fixed, but everything can be amended. Not everything can be fixed, but everything can be amended. That first Pesach is gone forever, dead and buried in the mists of time, but your new time to shine is now. It's a new month and a new you. You may not be able to recover the past, but your future actions can leave you sitting pretty; perhaps even better off than you would have been had you never gone astray in the first place.

The pain you caused in your relationships was real, but, by your committing to start again and do everything you possibly can to change, you have the opportunity to build a whole new relationship, founded on bedrock of shared commitment and new growth.

G‑d never promised that we won't fall off, but he will help us climb back on again. The past is my signpost to the future and the lessons I've learned from my earlier stumbles will protect me as I search for my new path through life. All it takes is resolution, courage and a lot of really hard work.

We all make mistakes and we all have regrets. The challenge is not to dwell on the sins of the past but seek a way forward for the future. It is never too late to start again. There is always a chance to redeem oneself. By starting over and committing to improve, we encounter a whole new world of opportunity and will be welcomed and comforted by G‑d on our journey to the future.