Pesach Sheni: Looking back, looking ahead

Pesach Sheni: Looking back, looking ahead

Chag Sameach! This coming Sunday we will celebrate Pesach! No doubt this revelation must be quite bewildering, but before you start panicking, this Pesach is slightly less intense than the “real thing.” It is Pesach Sheni. The Torah describes the date of this Pesach as the 14th of Iyar, exactly one month after the original Pesach (Numbers 9:9). This was an opportunity for one who, for some reason, had not been able to celebrate Pesach at the correct time.

There is a discussion in the Talmud (Pesachim 93a) as to whether this festival is merely an appendage and attachment to the original Pesach, providing an outlet for those who were unable to act in the correct time, or whether it is a festival in its own right.

The final halachic ruling is that it is, indeed, a festival in its own right. Yes, it does only apply to one who had missed the original date, but it still retains a certain uniqueness and identity.

The difference between the two ideas is as follows: According to the opinion that Pesach Sheni is a form of compensation for the original one, it teaches us that it is never too late to remedy a mistake. A very important and valuable lesson, indeed. Just as a second opportunity was afforded to one who had missed the original Pesach, in a similar vein one can always try and reverse a mistake.

In Judaism, once there is an admission that a mistake has occurred, one must only look forward. Correct the error and move on. Do not ever believe that it is too late ““ or that it is impossible ““ to mend an injustice.

According to the second opinion, the angle is quite different: Since Pesach Sheni is not merely connected to the original Pesach holiday, but is a festival in its own right, there is an element of originality and innovation.

This presents two approaches towards life itself. We are, after all, constantly searching and probing for the perfect way. There is a strong belief and understanding that we each have a unique role and function in life. We have purpose and focus, and we are always trying to rise above the mundane.

The two different views on Pesach Sheni teach us two crucial points.

First, one must not dwell too much on hopelessness and despair. One is encouraged to be optimistic of success, however long it takes and despite the invariable difficulties involved. It is never too late to create a positive experience and to build on it.

Second, even when life looks good and promising, there is always room for newness and freshness. As a famous Chassidic saying put it: If good is good, then surely better is better. Our comfort zone is only so good. Since we all have potential, we should utilize it in the best way possible to create a new and better way to achieve those special things in life.