Rabbi Avi Weinstein

The Festival of Second Chances, Pesach Sheni falls on Friday, May 8th…

In Pesach Sheni, second chances on May 8, 2009 at 3:04 am

…or more accurately, the 14th of the Jewish month of Iyar. It also happens to be my birthday, and the birthday of my son Shraga Faivel. Pesach Sheni originated because the children of Israel who were far away, or were impure had managed to miss the Pesach sacrificial meal They wanted a second chance, and Moses was counseled by God to give it to them.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people, saying: When any of you or of your posterity who are defiled by a corpse or are on a long journey would offer a passover sacrifice to the LORD, they shall offer it in the second month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, (Numbers Chapter 9)

To remember this second chance, there is a custom to eat Matza on Pesach Sheni, and some communities omit prayers that are considered inappropriate on happy days. But for most of us Pesach Sheni usually passes unnoticed.

I propose that it should be the Jewish holy day of second chances. The day of do overs. Just as God gave those Jews a second chance to fulfill the Pesach sacrifice, so, too, we should give others, and ourselves, a second chance, or at least the benefit of the doubt–a Jewish day of reconciliation.

It was always significant for me that I was given a second chance to raise a son after a ten year gap between he and his older sister and that the second chance was given on Pesach Sheni. Second chances make everyone better!


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