The Torah reading of Behaalotecha in the book of Numbers is rich in drama and stirring passages. One incident might escape attention, though it has profound significance underneath the surface. It seems that certain people were ritually impure at the time of the first anniversary of Passover, and could not participate in the offering. In answer to their plea, G‑d told Moses, "If any man be unclean ... or on a distant path" (Numbers 9:10), then he will have another opportunity to celebrate Passover. This would be on the Second Passover, one month after the regular date.

Israel survived the centuries because Jews returned from their journeysThe implications of this passage apply, as the Torah says, "to you and your posterity." We may become strangers to Judaism, wandering on distant paths, far from Torah and the Jewish spirit. We may become spiritually defective, Jewishly impure, insensitive to the values and beauties of our faith because we live by ideals and codes alien to Judaism. But we are not doomed to living apart from Judaism. We are never denied the opportunity of purifying ourselves, correcting deficiencies, reestablishing the bonds connecting us with G‑d, Torah, and Israel.

Obviously distant paths and impurity are not new to Jewish history. But Israel survived the centuries because Jews returned from their journeys, to maintain the integrity of Torah and Israel.