1. The subject of Pesach Sheni is discussed in very few places in Chassidic literature, consequently we also find that there is a lack of strong interest among the students of Chassidus to pursue this subject. Actually this is strange, for it would seem that a subject which is sparsely covered in Chassidic literature, appearing only in the latter years, and referred to only obliquely, should awaken somewhat of a greater curious appeal.

In fact, there is really a serious problem with the theme of Pesach Sheni which demands a thorough exploration.

Among the not many sources that analyze Pesach Sheni there is an aphorism of the Previous Rebbe which appears in HaYom Yom:

The theme of Pesach Sheni is: nothing is irretrievable, we can always make amends. Even one who was tameh, or was far away, even if his condition was the result of his own volition, nevertheless, we can rectify it. (HaYom Yom, 14th of Iyar)

This clearly states that Pesach Sheni teaches us that nothing is lost and there is always a chance to repair the damage. This is true not only for one who has the presumption of innocence, but also for one who was tameh (ritually polluted) and far away (from the house of G‑d) by his own free will. Pesach Sheni teaches us that you can make it up — for it is a mitzvah that was given for those who could not sacrifice their paschal offering on the eve of Pesach.

Now for a moment, let us consider a Chassidic discourse of the Tzemach Tzedek based on the teachings of the Alter Rebbe, which explains the theme of Pesach Sheni:

Pesach Sheni occurs in the month of Iyar, called the second month, for it is the second level compared to the Exodus. First came the Exodus, analogous to ‘Turn away from evil,’ as explained in Tanya that the people fled from the evil which was still dominant in their souls. Afterwards they could approach the second level of ‘and do good.’ These two approaches are similar to the Divine service of iskafia (stage one) and then ishapcha (stage two).

In the realm of Sefiros the second month (Iyar) is Yesod, second to Malchus (Nissan). Consequently, the first is connected to Malchus. When the Torah says that Hashem skipped over the doors this was the attribute of Malchus...and Pesach Sheni is Yesod.

For this reason the Mishnah rules: The first is subject to the prohibition of ‘[leaven] shall not be seen and shall not be found,’ (Shmos 12:19) while at the second [a man may have] leavened and unleavened bread in the house with him. (Pesachim 95a) On Pesach one must turn away from evil — get away from the three completely evil kelipos which include, bread and sour dough, which must be destroyed. But on Pesach Sheni one has already left the evil behind — so that chametz and matzah may exist together, for the chametz has been converted to holiness.

This explanation is incomprehensible. How can we categorize Pesach Sheni as the second stage in Divine service exemplifying ‘do good,’ or ishapcha, which comes after the first stage of ‘turn away from evil — iskafia? This flies smack in the face of the plain meaning of Scripture that the theme of Pesach Sheni is only for one who did not offer the first Paschal offering, and not a second stage to the Pesach ritual!?

The Torah is explicit, the Halachah is clear, and even in the esoteric, exegetic and symbolic interpretation of Torah, the purpose and existence of Pesach Sheni is only for one who for some reason did not sacrifice the first Pesach offering. Only such an individual must make it up by bringing the second Pesach korban.

If, however, one did sacrifice the Pesach offering, not only is he exempt from Pesach Sheni, he is prohibited from bringing a korban on Pesach Sheni.

This point is clearly alluded to by the Previous Rebbe when he says that Pesach Sheni teaches us that the omissions of the past can be rectified, this is true even when one was willingly tameh and far away. Clearly the options of Pesach Sheni do not exist in the Divine service of the righteous, only for the Baal Teshuvah.

How can we reconcile this view with the view of the Tzemach Tzedek that Pesach Sheni specifically follows after the Divine service of the first Pesach? Some research should be done to see if the question has been addressed somewhere in Chassidic literature. For the present we could propose the following explanation.

The aspect of Pesach Sheni which applies only when the obligation of the first Pesach was not fulfilled — is the duty to offer a sacrifice. When conditions prohibited an individual from bringing a Korban on the 14th of Nissan, he had a chance to make amends on the 14th of Iyar. If he did offer the paschal lamb in Nissan he may not repeat in Iyar.

However, in all other areas of Pesach, i.e. the prohibition of chametz, the requirement to eat matzah — as well as the spiritual exercises pertaining to the Divine service of man, to ‘turn from evil,’ iskafia, etc., in these, the Divine service of Pesach leads to and is complemented by Pesach Sheni. Just as he certainly was careful not to eat or own chametz even if he missed the Korban Pesach, so, too, may he proceed in the service of Pesach Sheni even if he did sacrifice the Korban Pesach.

Consequently, there is no paradox here, for the Chassidic interpretation of Pesach Sheni as being the second stage in Divine service, which comes after the first stage of the first Pesach, refers to the spiritual Divine service which is the essential metaphysical theme of Pesach. This is associated with the prohibition of eating chametz and the positive command to eat matzah. In this context one cannot attain the second stage without first fulfilling the first stage.

On the other hand when we view Pesach Sheni from the vantage point of Halachah, or the plain interpretation of Scripture, as well as in the writings of the Previous Rebbe, there we see Pesach Sheni as the ‘fixer’ which corrects the gap left by non-compliance — on the first Pesach. When the Paschal Sacrifice was not brought on Pesach the omission could be corrected by bringing the sacrifice on Pesach Sheni.

At the same time, however, he also attains the higher stage of doing good as a result of the good that he did on Pesach.

A further analysis of the story which led to the mitzvah of Pesach Sheni will reveal that the people who had not brought the first Pesach Korban were really not at fault and could not be considered deficient in their G‑dly Divine service. And, although in fact they did not offer the sacrifice, they did not miss any other aspect of the holiday. They carried out the steps of ‘Turn away from evil,’ the iskafia, and then approached the second state of ‘doing good’ and ishapcha.

In discussing the identity of the men who came to Moshe to complain that they lost the opportunity of offering the Korban Pesach because they had been busy with a dead body, the Gemara states:

Who were these men?... They were Mishael and Elzaphan who were occupied with [the remains of] Nadav and Avihu. (Sukkah 25 a-b)

These people had become tameh at the direct command of Moshe, as the Torah relates that Moshe told them:

Come forth and remove your close relatives from inside the Sanctuary. [Bring them] outside the camp. (Vayikra 10:4)

It is now obvious why they came with the complaint, ‘But why should we lose out....’ If they had been tameh of their own volition they would not have made this statement. In fact, however, they argued that they had become tameh only because of Moshe’s orders. And therefore they reasoned, ‘We were commanded to become tameh. Is it right that we should thereby lose an opportunity to bring our korban Pesach with everyone else?!’

Well, their argument was accepted by G‑d and they were given the opportunity to make amends in a manner which was even loftier than on the first Pesach, for on Pesach Sheni chametz and matzah may be in the home when the korban is offered.

They also merited that this mitzvah of Pesach Sheni was taught to the Jewish people as a result of their petition.

One thing comes through clearly, that even the most righteous in the time of galus will still find some aspects that need mending and remedying. In which case the lesson of Pesach Sheni tells us that nothing is irretrievable, and we can always make amends in an even loftier way than previously possible, quantitatively and qualitatively.

And may our discussion of this matter effect good action. So that we should merit to the ultimate perfection, the korban Pesach which we will sacrifice in the Bais HaMikdash, when our righteous Mashiach comes very soon. Our zealous involvement will bring zealous results and G‑d will reward ‘measure for measure,’ and speedily give us the ultimate redemption.

Then we will also have the duties of Divine service but it will all be in reaching for higher and greater levels only in the positive realms of holiness.

May this be speedily and truly in our days, with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

2. The theme of Pesach Sheni is to remedy and complete that which was lacking in the first Pesach.

This year Pesach Sheni falls on Wednesday of the week we read the portion of Emor, and in the study section of Revi’i the Torah speaks of the Pesach korban:

The afternoon of the 14th day of the first month [is the time that you must] sacrifice G‑d’s Passover offering. (Vayikra 23:5)

The Torah also speaks of the counting of the Omer, as well as the holiday of Shavuos:

You shall then count seven complete weeks after the day following the [Passover] holiday when you brought the Omer as a wave offering until the day after the seventh week...you may present...a meal offering. (Ibid. 15-16)

Chassidus explains that although the 49 days of Omer effect the purification of the seven attributes as they are permutated into 49 combinations, nevertheless the main refinement is completed by Lag BaOmer which corresponds to the permutation of the Sefirah of Hod in Hod. It many also be understood that since Chessed in Hod begins the Hod cycle and infiltrates through all the permutations, then the purification is already accomplished on the day of Chessed in Hod — the day of Pesach Sheni.

This year, when we read the Biblical injunction of counting the Omer on Pesach Sheni all this becomes much clearer. Pesach Sheni also has a common factor with Shavuos, for on Pesach Sheni one may sacrifice the Pesach Korban even though he possesses chametz in his home, just as on Shavuos we offer a sacrifice of two chametz loaves.

There is a further connection between the esoteric meaning of Hod as it relates to the Divine service of an individual (during the Omer period), and the Divine service of a person on Pesach.

Chassidus explains that the attribute Hod is esoterically related to the characteristics of acknowledgment (Ho’da’ah) and submission (Bittul). This of course is similar to the theme of Pesach, when the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself and redeemed them. What emotion did the Jewish people experience? total submission and self-nullification. On Pesach Sheni this characteristic is expressed through the attribute of Hod.

Now, in discussing the subject of submission and self-abnegation we may say that Pesach Sheni introduces an opportunity for more intense submission even when the Divine Service in this area during the first Pesach was already satisfactory.

An analogy may be drawn from the case of teshuvah expounded in Tanya, chapter 29. Since teshuvah is predominantly connected to the intense inner feeling of the heart, as one grows older and wiser his teshuvah must be renewed to correspond to his new spiritual level. Thus, today his teshuvah must be stronger than it was yesterday!

Similarly, in the case of self-abnegation, after the satisfactory state of bittul attained during Pesach, one must rise to a more intense state of bittul on Pesach Sheni.

The story of the death of Nadav and Avihu also provides us with another illustration of this principle (with tragic results). Nadav and Avihu were already ‘closer’ to G‑d — as Moshe exclaimed after they expired. They had attained a level of intense bittul — but they wanted to rise immeasurably higher and be more closely connected to G‑d. So they intensified their efforts and did not stop until the longing of their souls took over and they made the ultimate leap (and mistake) which allowed their souls to leave their bodies.

For us we may learn that even after reaching proper bittul there is room for more and more submission. But of course, only with good health, abundance and prosperity! On Pesach Sheni, when we enter the sefirah of Chessed of Hod, we realize that we must attain a greater level of bittul than was possible on Pesach.


At the close of today’s Torah section the Torah tells us:

[Furthermore] when you reap your land’s harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields...you must leave [all these] for the poor and the stranger. I am G‑d your L‑rd. (Vayikra 23:22)

What is the connection between the holidays and the food gifts given to the poor from the fields? Why are they mentioned in-between the laws of the festivals?

Some commentaries explain that since Shavuos celebrates the harvesting of the first fruits the Torah also teaches us other laws of the harvest time. However, this is not satisfactory, because no other agrarian mitzvos are to be found in the same chapters. What about the laws of terumah and maaser? They are not mentioned here!

The answer is (as explained by several commentators — Ohr HaChayim, Abarbanel) that we should not make the mistake and suppose that since we have uplifted the first fruits (bikkurim) from this field, to be delivered to the Bais HaMikdash, the field should now be exempt from all other levies (for the poor or for the Temple). In fact, this field and its produce are still subject to all tithes, taxes and duties!

Another point should be kept in mind. When the Torah commands us to observe the festivals it includes the less fortunate:

You shall rejoice before G‑d your L‑rd...you...and the proselytes, orphans and widows among you. (Devarim 16:11)

Our sages say that on the holidays one must be able to proclaim, ‘I rejoiced and I made others happy.’ The Rambam rules that we are obliged to care for the holiday needs of ‘the strangers, orphans, widows and other poor unfortunates.’ (Laws of the Festivals 6:18) Consequently, here, after having concluded the holiday of Pesach when the needs of the poor were certainly seen to, and having reached Shavuos, which concludes the holiday of Pesach, the Torah now reminds us that we must once again be concerned with the needs of the poor, and even if they were helped before Yom Tov they must be helped again after Yom Tov.

This brings us to an important lesson in the area of improving a person’s moral and ethical behavior.

It is human nature that when the importance of a particular activity is emphasized it is certainly carried out enthusiastically and properly for a certain stretch of time. Afterwards the enthusiasm will slacken and the people will be complacent with their previous accomplishments.

Thirty days before Pesach we begin to ‘thunder’ about the subject of ‘Ma’os Chittim,’ charity to help the poor for Pesach. The Alter Rebbe rules in Shulchan Aruch that every community has the obligation to tax all of its members to provide funds to help the poor on Pesach (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, beg. Laws of Pesach).

Then, on the night of the Seder in every home we proclaim:

Whoever is hungry let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the seder of Pesach. (Haggadah)

This feeling of caring and sharing certainly carries over into the days of Pesach. During the days of counting the Omer after Pesach, this feeling lingers on until Shavuos which again is a Festival when the poor must be cared for.

Now, however, when this period of fifty days is over and we return to harvesting the field, the Torah reminds us of the needs of the poor and commands us to carefully bequeath the various ‘gifts of the poor’ at the time of reaping.

Even one who feels that he gave enough Ma’os Chittim to last the poor people for a long time after Pesach — even he is reminded after Shavuos to once again rev up the ‘thunder,’ and when he reaps the benefits of his labors and harvests his fields he must remember his obligation to the poor.

Chassidus explains that our benevolence to the needy must follow the guidelines of ‘Tzedakah u’Mishpat’ (charity and justice) based on the Scriptural verse concerning Avraham:

I have given him special attention (I love him) so that (because) he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep G‑d’s way, doing charity and justice. (Bereishis 18:19)

This means that first a person must use Mishpat — honest justice — to judge how much he actually needs for himself and his family and how much he really deserves from the blessings bestowed upon him by the Holy One, Blessed be He. All the rest he should set aside for Tzedakah! (See Torah Or, Beshallach 63b)

Here, too, the theme of Pesach Sheni dictates increased action in charity, to rise even higher than the accomplishments of the first Pesach and give even more charity then before Pesach.

The fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedakah represents an expression of the true desire of a Jew.

In describing the importance of tzedakah our sages have told us that it is compared to all other mitzvos combined. Tanya explains that only in tzedakah does a person actually give away his whole life for someone else who is more needy. For this reason when a Jew gives tzedakah it is equal to all the mitzvos.

What about the mitzvah itself from G‑d’s viewpoint, is it special? Here, too, the answer is, ‘Yes!’ Tzedakah is referred to as ‘G‑d’s own mitzvah.’ (Iggeres HaKodesh 17) Why? Because everything G‑d does, does not come about because of some cause and effect process which ‘forces’ G‑d to act in a certain way. Rather, everything G‑d does is an expression of G‑d’s kindness and desire. Thus it was in the Supernal Will.

A Midrashic dictum says: ‘The righteous...they are like the Creator.’ (Rus Rabbah 4:3) In this context we may project that when Jews perform the mitzvah of tzedakah they do it not by force — nor because they are embarrassed by the collector — only because it is their true and sincere will.


What about those who claim that they ‘walk discreetly,’ and no one is aware of their charity and kindness because they give tzedakah ‘incognito.’

While the attribute of humbleness and discretion is truly praiseworthy, so much so, that the prophet states:

Will the L‑rd be pleased with thousands of rams,...He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the L‑rd require of you, but to do justly, and to love true loyalty, and to walk humbly (modestly-discreetly) with your G‑d. (Michah 6:7-8)

However, there is the possibility that people will think that he gives nothing to charity and they will learn from him.

After all, he is an honored individual, he has a full, flowing beard, he is blessed with affluence, and nevertheless he does not share in matters of tzedakah. From these observations they might think that respectable people are not expected to participate in such mitzvos.

It really behooves him to give charity openly and for all to see, so that they may learn from his good example. For this reason the Remo in Shulchan Aruch rules that, ‘It is praiseworthy to advertise those who perform good deeds,’ so as to encourage others to act likewise.

Then, if he also wants to have the quality of giving charity modestly, he should multiply his donation several-fold and the additional funds may be given discreetly.

It is of course altogether possible that his argument for modesty is really a smoke screen for his reluctance to give charity at all. One cannot see another’s inner thoughts, but just as his beard is clearly visible, so, too, whenever there is an appeal his name is absent. If his wife asks him the reason — his answer is ‘I walk discreetly.’

He wants to be called to the most honored Aliyah of the Torah, he demands to sit at the eastern wall of the Synagogue. Yet, when the subject of a charity appeal arises, or when the need for funds to print books and manuscripts is suggested — so as to carry out the need of the hour — to spread the teachings of Chassidus, he suddenly becomes humble and modest.

If it is as he really claims then he will give the money and allow them to print only his first name. The reality of the case is that the name does not appear because he really did not give tzedakah and this conduct has been going on for several years, and I wonder whether this talk will bring any good results, for it should have made a difference in the past and it did not. My hope is only that those who do good will be publicized so that others will follow suit.


Back to the subject at hand.

Today’s Chumash section concludes with the laws of gifts for the poor — and Pesach Sheni teaches us that we must increase our gifts to the poor even more than on the first Pesach.

Similarly, in preparation for Shavuos, the Season of the Giving of our Torah, Pesach Sheni reminds us that Matan Torah must be experienced every day and the Torah must be viewed as new every day.

Likewise, the lessons drawn from Pesach are enhanced and the humility and submission of Pesach is strengthened by Pesach Sheni, till the person achieves the ability to transform the evil into good on Pesach Sheni, when he sacrifices the Paschal offering while chametz still exists in his house. This speeds the redemption, when the spirit of tumah will be removed from the earth and even chametz will be rectified. When the Gemara states that in the future time the earth will grow freshly baked cakes it speaks of chametz which will have attained a new purification and then even the soul will receive sustenance from the physical food.

The mitzvah of giving charity, money, food to a worthy pauper brings a connection between man and G‑d, the physical act evokes the loftiest spiritual union.

* * *

3. The 13th of Iyar is the yahrzeit of R. Yisrael Aryeh Leib (the brother of the Rebbe Shlita). This name represents the esoteric code for the descent of the soul from its source to be enclothed in an animal-soul and body.

In the normal daily Divine service of a person he must rise step by step from lower levels of devotion and submission to greater levels. The function of a name is reversed; we find this to be the case when a person is given two names, one Hebrew and one in Yiddish or some other language — the Shulchan Aruch rules that the Hebrew name must come first. This in fact is the practice also followed when naming a child. When the name consists of Hebrew and foreign components the Hebrew names must come first. For the person’s name is the conduit through which the G‑dly force descends from above downwards and gives life to the individual.

In our daily prayers we proclaim that the soul is ‘pure’ for in its pristine level, before descending to the body, it is indeed ‘truly a part of G‑d.’ When the descent begins the soul is in a condition of ‘Yisrael’ exemplified by the verse:

Your name will no longer...be Yaakov, but Yisrael...You have struggled with a Divine being and you have won. (Bereishis 32:29)

At that point the soul is yet above man and above the divine forces which invigorate the corporeal world. As the soul descends it must keep this prerogative so that even when it is clothed in a physical body it must still predominate and overpower the limitations of the body. Here the name ‘Aryeh’ is added connoting the strength of a lion.

Finally, the soul is enclothed in the body and its worldly share — so we translate the Hebrew name ‘Aryeh’ into the Yiddish: ‘Leib.’

We speak of an individual, but the true scholar must learn from everyone, and in fact the terms here are universal for the first name is Yisrael — the power of the soul over other forces — and then Aryeh — the force of the soul in the body — finally permeating all aspects of life.

May Heaven grant that in these areas of Divine service everyone should see that it is never too late and that Pesach Sheni teaches there is an opportunity to repair and perfect and to reach the level of baal teshuvah — beyond Tzaddikim, qualitatively and quantitatively. For when Mashiach comes all Jews will attain the level of baal teshuvah, even the Tzaddikim.

This will happen when every Jew individually attains the Divine service of baal teshuvah and with Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity this will be accomplished for all Jews. For Mashiach will lead all the righteous to repentance (see Likkutei Torah, Shemini Atzeres, 92b).

And then we will go with our youth and elders in perfect unity, with their ‘silver’ and ‘gold,’ to our Holy Land, to Yerushalayim the Holy City and to the Bais HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies, quickly, on ‘the clouds of heaven’ with happiness and glad hearts.

Let us now emphasize several items to be zealous in:

A — May the proper preparations for Lag BaOmer be successful in a manner that will bring together all the tribes and all the children of Israel. They should be increased and may we dance to greet Mashiach even before Lag BaOmer.

B — Preparation and planning for the summer programs for children should be arranged, so that they are permeated with the spirit of Torah, prayer and charity.

All this will bring Mashiach in a pleasant manner, very quickly.