Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pesach Sheini

Today is Pesach Sheini, the day set for those people who were unfortunate to be unable to participate in the communal mitzvah (commandment) of the korban Pesach (the Paschal sacrifice). While the account in the Torah refers to people who were rendered impure at the time of the korban, this also includes those who were too distant to make it to Jerusalem on time for the Pesach holiday.

According to the holy Zohar, the special (spiritual) crown of Pesach that is bestowed upon every Jew in honor of the holiday remains with us for thirty days, until the fourteenth of Iyar, which is Pesach Sheini. Moreover, the Heavenly gates, which are opened on Pesach, remain opened for yet another seven days following Pesach Sheini, coinciding with the sefirah week of Hod, the attribute that pertains to splendor and glory. Pesach Sheini  
is no mere consolation prize; it has its own unique spiritual capacity that allows a person to take advantage and continue elevating himself in his search for completion.

Rav Tzaddok haKohen of Lublin has an insight into the nature of the day:

In the desert, those Jews who had missed out on the korban Pesach approached Moshe and protested "Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present God's offering in its time amongst the Children of Israel?" (Numbers 9)

Really, we have to wonder what these people were thinking - after all, if you know that the time is approaching, wouldn't it be wise to take the necessary measures to avoid circumstances that would prevent one's ability to partake in the korban? If you live far away, start traveling earlier! At all costs, don't become impure! How does one let it get to a point where he is prevented from joining his brethren in this important mitzvah?

Rav Tzaddok answers with a brilliant insight into human nature. Very often we tell ourselves that we will overcome our various inclinations to sin, and we won't get trapped again. We set up all sorts of protections and resolve to never get caught in the temptation - only to shake our heads in confusion ten minutes later and ask " did that happen?"

"Why should we be deprived..." isn't a grievance. It's a cry of anguish when we realize our failings despite all the times we promise ourselves that we are going to get better. We ask why should we be deprived of the peace of mind associated with being a true servant of God, why should we be denied entrance into His chambers, why is it so hard for us to do right and have a chance at being good Jews. Pesach Sheini is there for those people, another chance to get it right, to do teshuva to rejoin the nation...

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