1. Our Sages declared: “Whoever works Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos.” Thus, it follows that this is the time to “eat” — i.e., to internalize — the lessons of Pesach Sheni (“the second Pesach”) which, this year, fell on Erev Shabbos.

The Previous Rebbe explained that Pesach Sheni teaches us that “Nothing is ever lost. The situation can always be corrected.” Even a person who is “impure” or “far removed” (and even if he willingly brought these conditions upon himself) can correct his status. Regardless of how low one has fallen, there is a possibility for rectification.

Originally, Pesach Sheni was instituted for people who were involved in important spiritual tasks (those who carried Yosef’s bier or those who buried Aharon’s sons). Their impurity did not reflect a lack, but rather was associated with the fulfillment of G‑d’s will. Nevertheless, though there was nothing lacking in their service, they desired to attain the further heights which could be reached by offering the Pesach sacrifice. Therefore, they demanded, “Why should we be deprived?” Their demand was accepted in heaven and G‑d granted a new mitzvah that enabled our people to bring the Pesach Sheni in all the generations which follow.

On a deeper level, this shows that Pesach Sheni allows one to add to one’s service even when one does not feel a lack in the present. When a person sees that it is possible to attain a higher level, the fact he has not attained that level as of yet can be considered an inadequacy that must be corrected.

To explain in depth: The question could be asked: Why didn’t the people whose demands brought about the institution of the Pesach Sheni sacrifice approach Moshe earlier? Moshe had given the command to offer the Paschal sacrifice previously and they knew that their state of impurity would prevent them from bringing it. If so, why did they wait until Erev Pesach, the day the Paschal sacrifice was being offered to approach Moshe? Why didn’t they clarify their situation as soon as the command to bring a Paschal sacrifice was given?

The reason for their delay can be explained within the context of the concept: “A person who is involved in a mitzvah is free of the obligation to perform other mitzvos.” This exemption is granted because all the mitzvos are interrelated and each mitzvah includes all the other mitzvos. Therefore, when one is involved in the fulfillment of one mitzvah it is considered as if he was involved in the performance of all the mitzvos.

Accordingly, since the people1 who complained to Moshe about having been denied the opportunity to offer the Paschal sacrifice had been involved in the performance of a mitzvah, there was nothing lacking in their status before the Paschal sacrifice was offered. However, when they considered the future and realized that they could reach a higher level, they viewed their present situation as lacking. Therefore, on Pesach eve, when they saw everyone bringing the sacrifice and appreciated the heights they could reach once they regained ritual purity, they felt an inadequacy that compelled them to approach Moshe with these demands.

This concept is reinforced by the halachic definition of Pesach Sheni as a festival in its own right and not merely a chance to compensate for the failure to offer the first Paschal sacrifice. Thus, it adds a new dimension in Torah, not only for those who were impure, but for the entire Jewish people. Even if one offered the first Paschal sacrifice in a complete manner, Pesach Sheni affords him an opportunity to reach an even higher spiritual rung.

[This is implied by the very name of the holiday. Pesach means “leap” or “jump.” Pesach Sheni is thus, a “second jump,” allowing one to reach even higher peaks than the first.]

Thus, Pesach Sheni contains lessons on two opposite extremes: On one hand, it teaches a person that no matter how low his situation, he can always reach a higher peak. Conversely, it also teaches someone whose work is seemingly complete, without any lack, that he can aspire to a higher level, a level that he must “jump” to reach.

2. The above concepts can also be associated with this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Behar, and the Torah portion which we will begin to read in the Minchah service which follows, Parshas Bechukosai. Parshas Behar begins with the mention of Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is related to the concept of Torah study as implied by the opening statement in Pirkei Avos: “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.” It is also related to the service of prayer for our Sages stated: “Sinai, this is a ladder” and also teach “prayer is a ladder.”

Thus, it also shares a connection to the Temple — the place where the Paschal sacrifice would be offered — for the complete state of both these services is related to the Temple. The ark (where the tablets of the law were kept) is associated with the service of Torah and the altar (for “the prayers were instituted in place of the sacrifices”) with prayer.

These two services allow a person to proceed forward as Parshas Bechukosai states in its opening verse, “If you will walk in My statutes.” Parshas Bechukosai also contains another lesson. The work chok means “engrave” or “hew out.” In this context, the Rebbeim have explained the difference between letters which are written with ink on parchment and letters which are hewed into stone.

When letters are written on parchment, the letters and the parchment are two different entities and it is possible to separate between them. In contrast, when letters are hewed into stone, the letters are not a separate entity, but rather, part of the stone itself. Therefore, it is impossible to separate between them.

There is a parallel to this concept in our service of G‑d. The letters hewed into the tablets represent the essential connection which a Jew shares with G‑d. This connection can never be broken (as obvious from the mesirus nefesh shown by the Jews) for essentially, G‑d and the Jews are a single entity.

There are two expressions of this concept. Firstly, “nothing is ever lost,” i.e., because of the essential connection a Jew shares with G‑d, regardless of the depths to which an individual has fallen, each Jew can correct his situation. Conversely, since this essential connection associates a Jew with G‑d as He is unlimited, each Jew, regardless of how high his level, has the potential to increase his service of G‑d. These two expressions are related to the two lessons of Pesach Sheni stated above.

Pesach Sheni is also related to the concepts of ahavas Yisrael and achdus Yisrael. The willingness to provide even those who were unable to bring a sacrifice at the first opportunity shows how important each individual is and how much love must be extended to him. Similarly, the fact that the Pesach Sheni offering which was instituted only for certain individuals contains lessons for every Jew, even those on a high level, shows how the entire Jewish people are bound together as a single entity. This is reinforced by the metaphor of letters carved into stone which describes the essential connection to G‑d which all Jews share equally.2

3. The second Paschal sacrifice can be offered only after undergoing the purification process associated with the Red Heifer. Until that process is completed, it is forbidden to enter the Temple to offer a sacrifice. Thus, there is a connection between the sacrifice of Pesach Sheni and the daily portion of Rambam associated with the present Shabbos, which includes the siyum (conclusion) of Hilchos Klei HaMikdash and the first chapter of Hilchos Bias HaMikdash.

Hilchos Klei HaMikdash concludes as follows:

Though it is found in the statements of the prophets that the priests would wear a linen ephod, this is not a sign that they were High Priests for the ephod of the High Priests was not of linen. Even Levites would wear it... Rather, this ephod would be worn by the disciples of the prophets and those who were fit to have the holy spirit rest upon them. This demonstrated that they had reached a level higher than the High Priest....

This emphasizes how the spirit of prophecy can rest on each and every Jew and thus, elevate him to a level above that of the High Priest.3 After attaining such a level, his entry into the Beis HaMikdash (Bias HaMikdash) is of a totally different nature. This is further emphasized by the Rambam’s statements that, “The Beis HaMikdash was not on flat ground, but on the incline of the mountain.”4 This shows that a Jew who enters the Beis HaMikdash must begin a process of continual ascent, going up level after level until he reaches the Holy of Holies.

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4. As mentioned in the previous farbrengen, the counting of the Omer is connected with the service of ahavas Yisrael, compensating for and correcting the failure of Rabbi Akiva’s students to show respect to each other. This is also connected with Lag BaOmer which falls in the coming week and is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He was one of the students of Rabbi Akiva who perpetuated the Torah’s teaching after the others died. His character traits reflected those of Rabbi Akiva and thus, he surely fulfilled Rabbi Akiva’s teaching, “ ’Love your fellowman as yourself.’ This is a great general principle of the Torah.”

The expression used by our Sages regarding Rabbi Akiva’s students is “Lo nohagu kavod zeh l’zeh” —“They did not treat each other with respect.” However, use of the word “nohagu” in this context is somewhat unusual. Its use implies that the manner showing respect to one’s colleagues must become a minhag — a custom which has become an integral part of one’s behavior, something one is so used to doing that it comes naturally, without effort.5

The word nohagu is also related to the word manhig, a leader, a person who influences others. Each Jew must become a leader for all the people with whom he has contact and teach them the importance of ahavas Yisrael and achdus Yisrael.

This is also associated with the two lessons of Pesach Sheni mentioned above: In regard to ahavas Yisrael and the importance of showing proper respect to one’s fellow man, if there is an inadequacy in one’s service, one must know that “Nothing is ever lost” and it is possible to correct the situation. Conversely, even a person on the highest levels must know that he can always add to his service and reach even greater peaks of ahavas Yisrael.

These concepts should be publicized in the widest manner possible. Every Jew must realize that Pesach Sheni grants him the potential to correct his past behavior and elevate it to a higher rung. This applies not only to the recent past, but to everything the person has done throughout his life, even to those sins transgressed in childhood.6 Similarly, parents and teachers should try to influence their students and teach them to rectify their past behavior. Even if the child has left home or the student is now located in another place, they should still try to use their influence to convey these lessons to him.

These lessons should be conveyed to the public as a group in an atmosphere of joy and happiness, in a Chassidic farbrengen.7 Similarly, parades should be organized for Jewish children for Lag BaOmer, stressing the slogan “All Jewish children together.” May these efforts hasten the time when all the blessings mentioned in Parshas Bechukosai will be fulfilled, including the greatest blessing, “And I will place My sanctuary among you,” the building of the Third Temple by Mashiach. May it be now, immediately.