The Torah relates in Beha’alosecha that when the Jews brought the Paschal offering in the desert, some individuals could not participate because they were ritually impure. In response to their cry, “Why should we lose the privilege of bringing the offering,” G‑d said that those who were unable to bring the offering at the appointed time could do so one month later.1 This “makeup” offering is known as Pesach Sheni , in contrast to the regular Pesach Rishon.

Among the differences between Pesach Rishon and Pesach Sheni : a) during Pesach Rishon , leavened products are prohibited in the person’s domain, on Pesach Sheni , however, the person may have such products in his house;2 b) Pesach Rishon extends for the seven days of Passover, while Pesach Sheni lasts only one day.3

Since Pesach Sheni serves as a “makeup” for Pesach Rishon , one might think it would be similar in all aspects; why do they differ so radically?

The Pesach Rishon offering is in accord with the orderly pattern of Torah — it is brought in its time. Pesach Sheni involves an offering that is not. This is akin to the difference between the service of a wholly righteous individual, a tzaddik , and a penitent. A tzaddik serves G‑d in an orderly manner — in harmony with the order of Torah. A penitent, however, having by definition transgressed the orderly pattern of Torah, is afforded the opportunity to make up for that which he is lacking.

The service of a penitent, however, contains a quality that a tzaddik’s service lacks. The tzaddik’s service deals solely with permissible matters; his experience with evil is limited to subduing or negating it. Consequently, the tzaddik is unable to transform evil into holiness. A penitent, however, returns to G‑d out of love, and is able to transform evil — his past iniquities — into merits.4