Monday, 19 May 2008

Hayom Yom - Iyar 14 - Pesach Sheini


Dedicated to the following for an Aliyas Neshama:
Nathan Gershon ben Nathan
Chaim ben Yitzchak HaKohein
Ruth bas Lieb

"The matter concerning Pesach Sheini is that there is no such thing as loss [to despair from rectifying something.] It is never too late! It is always possible to rectify. Even a person who was impure, or was a far distance away and even 'to you' that the thing was with ones will. Nevertheless it is possible to rectify"

The lesson for today is a simple one. It is never too late and there is always hope! Rabbi Nachman - the Breslov Rebbe (1772-1810) would say "There is no such thing as despair. If you believe you can destroy, believe you can repair!"

Today is known as the second Passover. What are we actually celebrating?

In the book of Bamidbar - Number, (Chapter 9 vv 1-14), G-d addresses Moses and commands him with the commandment of the Paschal Lamb. The Paschal Lamb was offered on the 14th day of the month of Nissan in the afternoon.

This lamb represented the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery. And because of the nature of blood - much like the commandment of circumcision, it also represented the sealing of the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people.

However, there were some Jews who were not able to partake of this offering. Some who had been contaminated by a corpse, and so they approached Moshe and Aharon and asked what could be done. Why should they lose out?! After all it was none of their doing that caused them to forfeit from the Mitzvah to be connected to G-d. It just did not seem fair. Certainly if they had done something wrong willfully, they might think that they would not be deserving of this honor of offering the Paschal Lamb, but it had been none of their own doing that caused them to forfeit this special Mitzvah.

Moshe asked G-d what could be done, and G-d replied that anybody who had been contaminatied by a corpse, or who had been on a distant road - these people could still offer this Paschal Lamb. Although they obviously could not do so in the "correct" time, they were still permitted to offer it - in the second month - Iyar, on the fourteenth day - today!

A person who had willfuly not taken part in the offering of the Paschal Lamb, was not however permitted to partake of the privilege of the "second offering". Unfortunately he did not get off lightly for having deliberately removed himself from this essential commandment of the Torah. (See Numbers 9:13)

While we should not be lead to feel we can do what we wish and that G-d will simply forgive - or perhaps even consider our knowledge of G-d so great that we assume he already knows what will be and therefore our service below has no meaning for Him, we should well consider the section of Torah regarding the second Paschal Lamb.

Each day, when we awaken, we are confronted with myriads of Mitzvot (commandments) to perform. In fact, they are infinite - even when we seem to feel we can count them during the day. From saying "Modeh Ani" - and thanking G-d for awakening us and restoring our soul in the morning, to keeping the laws of Kashrus - every day, the Shabbos once a week - and the laws of family purity - every day, to the Mitzvos of hospitality (which can occur at any moment), we can literally fill up our entire day with serving G-d, not letting up for a moment. Much like the forefathers who were Chariots for the Divine. Much like a car or vehicle does the will of it's owner, so too did the forefathers do the will of G-d - no matter what was required. No questions asked! (Even when it seems like there are!)

But, because there is so much to do each day, we find ourselves not always been able to achieve everything. And so, many times we stumble. Not on purpose of course. Rather, we just cannot do it anymore. We feel we just cannot achieve everything. And so, if it's not being able to wake up early enough to pray with a Minyan, or it was accidentally switching on a light on Shabbos, we realise we aren't perfect!

The Torah wants us to be as perfect as possible - for we are created in the image of G-d and contain within ourselves a G-dly soul, but in fact, for progress, we need to take a few steps back. Much like a runner, who before the race begins, actually pushes his foot backwards on the stone behind his foot in order to give him the leverage to run. Or like the high jumper, who must take a few steps backwards in order to get a good run up before jumping over the high beam above him.

In fact, the steps backward are not only *not* backwards, they are very often forwards. The Torah calls this a Yerida LeTzorech Aliyah - a descent for the purpose of an ascent! We go down in order to go up. Much like the soul comes down into this world - the ultimate descent - in order to go even higher when it eventually leaves this world.

And so, we must be aware that when we stumble, there is always hope, another chance! Sometimes it may come about immediately, and other times, it may take a month! And sometimes it may even be years before one can repair oneself completely!

The main thing is that despair does not exist, and to be aware than one can always correct what one may have done wrong.

There is always another chance!


Eat a piece of Matzah some time during the day as a reminder of the second Passover! You do not have to keep the strict laws concerning the eating of Matzah as was done on the first night of the first Pesach i.e. at the Seder, and even those who are careful not to eat Matzah mixed with water - may do so happily today!


Today is the Yarhtzeit (the anniversary of the death) of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes. Rabbi Meir the miracle maker. Those who have lost objects may know that in order to find them, we ask the G-d of Meir to help us find them by reciting a short prayer to this effect.

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