This week's Parshah tells the story of a group of men who were unable to bring the Passover offering on its appointed time, and approached Moses with a sincere request: "Why should we lose out?" It so happened that these individuals had been occupied with a good deed—according to some it was nothing less than carrying the remains of Joseph from Egypt en route to his final resting place in Shechem in the Holy Land—and because of their contact with the dead were "ritually impure" and thus unfit to bring the offering.

Moses consulted G‑d and was told that, in fact, the men were quite right. Henceforth, those who were ritually impure or far away at the time the Passover offering was brought on the 14th of Nissan would be given a second chance exactly one month later on the 14th of Iyar to make good their lost opportunity.

There are many important lessons from this law, known as Pesach Sheini ("the Second Passover"), such as "It's never too late." There are second chances in life for all of us. Or, that G‑d sometimes waits to see if we really want something badly enough to demand it and only then does He give it to us. But now I'd like to share with you an important message I once heard from the former head of the Johannesburg Kollel, the late Rabbi Mordechai Shakovitzky, may he rest in peace.

He said that what those men in Moses' day did was actually quite inspiring. You see, they didn't really have to come and plead with Moses for a second chance. After all, they had the perfect alibi. They could have simply said, "Sorry, we were busy with another mitzvah." They were spiritually unable to participate. They had no reason to feel guilty. They couldn't be faulted. And yet, it did bother them. They felt left out and genuinely desired to be together with their brethren in the observance of another mitzvah, the Passover offering. People who had every opportunity to be free of obligation and willfully choose to actively seek obligation are indeed deserving of honorable mention. It is right that they should be singled out in the Torah for their sincerity and devotion.

We're all very good at making excuses: It's too cold, too hot, too expensive, too difficult etc, etc... Too many of us take the path of least resistance. Parents arranging a Bar Mitzvah for their son sometimes look for the easy way out. "Can we have it at Minchah, Rabbi? That will be less demanding on our son. He's very active in the school sports program and won't have that much time to learn." Brides and grooms don't always appreciate the beautiful way of life Judaism can offer our most intimate relationship. "Do we have to attend the classes, Rabbi? Is the Mikvah compulsory?"

"The difference between a success and a failure is that a failure makes excuses and a success makes a plan."

Let's not look for excuses. Don't opt for the easy way out. Let us learn from the men in the wilderness who could have had every excuse in the book and yet happily chose to look for a new mitzvah and to share in the good deed of their community.