We should not give up; life gives us a second chance!
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
In this week’s parashah, parashat B’haalotcha, it is written that in the second year after the exodus from the land of Egypt, God reminded the people of Israel about the celebration of Pesach. The Torah tells us that the people of Israel celebrated the festival in the desert on its proper date. However, there was a group of people who were not able to celebrate Pesach because they were ritually impure to do so. They felt deprived at not being able to share this important national festival with their people, so they brought this problem to Moses.
Moses was not sure what to do so he asked God. It is worth it to highlight here Moses’ attitude of humility. He was the great leader of the people; however, he had the honesty to say, “I don’t know, I will ask. “This teaches us the importance of being honest and admitting when we don’t know something and looking for the right answer.
Moses asked God and God said: “Speak to the Israelite people, saying: When any of you or 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, and they shall not leave any of it over until morning. They shall not break a bone of it. They shall offer it in strict accord with the law of the Passover sacrifice. “(B’midbar 9:10-12)
It is interesting to point out that God acknowledged the concern of this group of people, and tried to look for a solution so they could feel part of the people. God gave this group a second chance. God suggested to them to celebrate the festival of Pesach the following month, on the month of Iyar. This is what today we know for “Pesach Sheni,” “the second Pesach.”
Rashi even amplified the case of the person who is on a long journey and said that the journey does not really have to be a distant one, for even if the person is only outside the threshold of the sanctuary court during the time of slaughtering of the Passover-offering, it is considered “a distant way.”
I believe that we can learn two important lessons from this story. First, this teaches us that the tradition should be flexible and dynamic enough to consider the situations that escape us from the normal expectations, and to look for ways to integrate those who don’t fit with the norm. In this case, God gave the people who were not able to celebrate Pesach in its proper time, the opportunity to celebrate it in the following month, so they don’t feel relegated and left out.
Second, God gave this group of people a second chance. It is very important to know that we have second chances in our lives. Many times, it happens that we do our best, but for different reasons and circumstances we fail in our projects, jobs, dreams, goals, etc. and we feel disappointed and discouraged. In those situations, we should remember that life gives us second chances. You should not give up, just wait to have a new opportunity to achieve what you are looking for.
We can apply this lesson in the Jewish spiritual life. Life often offers second chances for spiritual fulfillment that may have been missed when the opportunities first presented themselves. For example, if you feel you have missed the opportunity to study Hebrew, sacred sources, to know how to pray with a prayer book, to wear a Tallit, Tefillin or to fix a Mezuzah in your house, to eat Kosher food or belong to a synagogue; there is always a second chance to review your Jewish life and revert that situation. Our tradition is flexible and open enough to welcome those who are now far away. Our tradition gives us a second chance, don’t miss this opportunity!