Pesach Insights

Pesach Sheni

Posted on April 28, 2010. Filed under: 5769, Jewish History, Jewish Miracles, Jewish traditions, Jewish vocabulary, Pesach, Pesach 2009, Pesach 5769, Pesach 5770, Pesach Insights, Shavous 5769, Shavuos, Shavuot, Shavuot 5769, True, Truth, Uncategorized, What? | Tags: , , , , |


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Another Opportunity Granted

Pesach Sheni (“the Second Pesach”) is celebrated on the 14th of Iyar, a month after the eve of Pesach. The Torah1 re lates that in the first year after the Exodus, when the Jewish people were preparing to bring the Pesach sacrifice:

There were [certain] men who were impure because [they had come in contact with a] human corpse and they could not bring the Pesach offering on that day. They came before Moshe… and said, “We are un clean… [but] why should we be held back from bringing the offering of G‑d in its time?…”

And Moshe said to them, “Stand and hear what G‑d will command concerning you.”

G‑d said…, “If any man be impure… or on a distant way [on the day of the Pesach offering]…, he shall sacrifice the Pesach offering to G‑d, in the second month, on the fourteenth day at dusk….”

Anyone who did not bring a Pesach offering, whether be cause of impurity or even because he had willfully trans gressed G‑d’s will, was thus given the opportunity to com pensate for his shortcoming by bringing an offering on Pesach Sheni. 2

“It’s Never Too Late!”

The Previous Rebbe explained3 that, “Pesach Sheni teaches us that ‘Nothing is ever lost: it’s never too late!’ Our conduct can always be rectified. Even someone who is impure, who was far away and even desired to be so, can still correct him self.” There is no justification for despair. Every individual, no matter what his situation, always has the potential to make a leap forward (the literal translation of the Hebrew word Pesach) in his service of G‑d.

Given the significance of Pesach Sheni, one might ask: Why was it instituted a full month after Pesach, in the month of Iyar? Wouldn’t it have been better to atone for our defi ciencies at the earliest opportunity, in Nissan?

We can answer this question by comparing the spiritual characteristics of Nissan and Iyar. Nissan is the month of revelation, the month during which G‑d revealed His great ness and redeemed the Jewish people despite their inadequa cies. Iyar, by contrast, is the month of individual endeavor, a quality that is exemplified by the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer. 4 The theme of Iyar, self-refinement initiated by the individual himself, is in keeping with the nature of Pesach Sheni, the festival in which an individual who was not motivated by Pesach is given an additional opportunity to elevate himself.

Pesach and Chametz Together

The different stages of divine service represented by Pesach Rishon (the first Pesach) and Pesach Sheni are reflected in one of the halachic differences between them. On Pesach Rishon, all traces of chametz must be obliterated; on Pesach Sheni, although we eat matzah, one may have chametz in one’s possession.5

On Pesach Rishon, hoisted aloft by the Divinely-initiated revelations of the month of Nissan, we strive to reach new heights of spiritual freedom by stepping beyond the limits of our own personalities. This necessitates leaving behind our chametz, i.e., our egotism. Then comes the month of Iyar, with its demand for individual spiritual homework. On Pesach Sheni, accordingly, we concentrate on rectifying and up grading our current levels of conduct.6 And since in this kind of avodah we have to deal with all the current components of our natures, the possession of chametz on Pesach Sheni is permitted.

The Desire Within Our Hearts

In light of this, we can explain why the mitzvah of Pesach Sheni came about in response to the sincere request of indi viduals who were impure. One of the goals of Judaism is to draw holiness — downward, so to speak — into the world. A more important goal, however, is to elevate the world and the worldly aspects of man, to transform all aspects of our being, and bring to the surface the essential G‑dliness within us.

The institution of Pesach Sheni was prompted by the heartfelt desires of those who, despite their impurity, pro tested, “Why should we be prevented from bringing the offer ing of G‑d?”7 The mitzvah was given, not as a commandment from above, but as an expression of man’s inner need to establish a bond with G‑d.

This need exists in potential in every Jewish heart. Man’s plea for “one more chance” reflects the mode of divine serv ice called teshuvah (repentance; lit., “return”). For everyone, even a person who is “on a distant path” possesses a Divine potential which always seeks to realize itself.

Stepping Above Time

The concept of teshuvah helps us understand another difference between Pesach Sheni and Pesach Rishon. Pesach Rishon lasts seven days (and eight in the Diaspora), while Pe sach Sheni is celebrated for only one day.8 A week repre sents the cycle of change that governs our material world. The spiritual experience of Pesach Rishon requires a full week be cause it encompasses the entire cycle of growth and change which must take place within the framework of our worldly existence.

The service of teshuvah, however, requires us to reach be yond our limited, worldly frame of reference and express the unbounded potential of the G‑dly spark within us. This po tential, which transcends the restrictions of the natural world, cannot be confined within the limitations of time. The celebration of Pesach Sheni for one day symbolizes transcen dence. Here, the number one is not the smallest number; in stead, it represents a unity which transcends all numerical values.

The time-transcending quality of teshuvah is exemplified by the Talmudic account9 of R. Eliezer ben Durdaya. Although he had led a wanton life, when he felt compelled to do teshuvah he experienced an internal transformation so in tense that his soul departed from his body as he wept in re morse. When R. Yehudah HaNasi heard this story, he too wept, exclaiming, “There are those who attain [their share in] the World [to Come] after many years [of divine service], and there are others who attain [their share in] the World [to Come] in one moment.”

Chassidic thought explains that R. Yehudah HaNasi was reacting with a positive form of envy, for he realized that R. Eliezer ben Durdaya’s teshuvah surpassed his own spiritual heights.

Continuous Growth

Although Pesach Sheni was initially instituted for those who had not offered the Pesach sacrifice in its proper time, its spiritual expression in our divine service is relevant to all Jews, even those who have celebrated Pesach as completely as possible.10

The Pesach sacrifice was intended to motivate every in dividual to leave his personal Egypt, to make a radical depar ture from his previous spiritual state and approach a new, higher, level of divine service. The departure from Egypt is a continuous process;11 we must constantly proceed forward. No matter what heights a person has reached, he should not remain content with the level he has attained and must always seek to advance further. For the G‑dly potential within us is infinite.

In the month of Iyar, therefore, the offering brought on Pesach Rishon becomes insufficient. Since the passage of time has afforded us the opportunity of reaching greater heights in our divine service, it is necessary for us to bring another offering on Pesach Sheni.

The necessity for constant spiritual striving is illustrated by reference to the laws regulating ritual purity.12 There are several successive states of purity and impurity. For example, and in ascending order, someone who is considered pure with regard to Chullin (non-sacramental food) may be deemed impure with regard to the more stringent demands of Maaser Sheni (the Second Tithe, which must be eaten in Jeru salem only while in state of purity). By the same token, someone who is considered pure with regard to Maaser Sheni may still be impure with regard to Terumah (the portion of grain given to the Kohanim). Similarly, one who is pure in re gard to Terumah might still be impure for the purpose of partaking of the sacrifices offered in the Beis HaMikdash.

These categories are paralleled in our divine service. Though an individual may have been “pure” at his level of divine service on the 14th of Nissan, his progress since then renders his previous status unsatisfactory. Relative to his pre sent level of attainment, his previous state is “impure”, and he is therefore obligated to bring a second Pesach offering.

We find that a pattern of continuous growth — “They shall proceed from strength to strength” — is associated with “appear[ing] before G‑d in Zion.”13 May the personal growth motivated by Pesach Sheni prepare us for the time when the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt and we will partake of the Pesach offerings and the other festive offerings.14 And may this take place in the immediate future.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, Parshas Behaalos’cha; the Sichos of Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Emor, 5738

“It’s never too late. There’s always a second chance.” This, according to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, 1880-1950), is the message of Pesach Sheini, the biblically ordained “second Passover” for those who fail to bring the Passover offering on its designated time.

We all relate to a statement like, “There’s always a second chance.” It soothes our harried souls, and fits nicely on the December 31 page of an Inspirational Sayings Desk Calendar. But how does it mesh with real day-to-day life? I took a small neighborhood survey.

“Well,” said Sarah L., a neighbor, “I missed the 6:22 coming home yesterday evening and spent 35 minutes in the station reading a two-day-old newspaper — time I would have used to tell my daughter a bedtime story, if I’d gotten home in time. I’ll make that train today (I hope) but yesterday’s 6:22 ain’t ever coming ever again…”

“Well,” said Jeffery H., a successful divorce lawyer, “twenty years ago I knew a wonderful girl that I wanted to marry. At one point, the words were at the tip of my tongue, and I just knew that she’d say ‘Yes’. But the moment passed and I never did pop the question. I have no regrets — I’m happily married today — but that moment will never come back… Not in this lifetime, anyway.”

“Well,” said Forrest G., a business tycoon I know, “back in high school I had a friend who asked me if I thought he ought to go into politics. Now, this is the last guy in the world you’d want as head of state and commander-in-chief of a superpower. But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I said, ‘Sure, go for it.’ I don’t have to tell you what a mess this guy made of our world during the eight years he was in office. That’s one decision that’s too late to change…”

What do we mean when we talk about a “second chance?” Is it the ability to step into a capsule, be transported to a previous point in time, jostle aside our previous, misguided self, and do it the right way this time? But if that’s all there’s to it, what has been gained? We could just as well have done it right the first time!

The Torah’s idea of teshuvah (“return”) is not just the undoing or correcting of a past error. Rather, teshuvah is about transforming the past. It means reaching back to change the significance and the consequences of what happened, so that the end-result is better than what would have been had it not occurred.

Sarah L.: “You know, if I’m honest about it, the truth is that even if I would have made that train, I would have sat and read through that bedtime story as quickly as I could, just because I’d promised my daughter that I would. My mind was on other things that day. But the fact that I missed the train and broke my promise made me realize how much my daughter needs me — and not just my physical presence, but also my attention and mindfulness. Tonight, I’m going to sit with her on her bed and really talk — something that we haven’t done for longer than I care to remember…”

Jeffery H.: “You know, there is nothing that I value more than my marriage. I believe that the woman I married is my destined soulmate, the one who is truly the only person in the world for me. The more I think about it, the more I see that ‘missed opportunity’ in my past as a perpetual challenge to experience — and surpass — that degree of yearning and hope in our own relationship. I say to myself: If I was able to see such promise and depth of feeling in that false lead, how much more so in the real thing! It makes me fall in love with my wife all over again every day of my life.”

As for my business tycoon friend, instead of retiring (as he planned to do at 65), he’s been working day and night to fix the mess that guy made. Let’s see what he comes up with.

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Chassidic Dimension: Pesach 5769

Posted on April 7, 2009. Filed under: Chassidic Dimension Pesach, Jewish Customs, Pesach 2009, Pesach 5769, Pesach Insights, Sichos In English, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |



The Chassidic Dimension – Volume 4

Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.

Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

Pesach 5769

Published and (c) Copyright by:

Sichos In English

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“Poor Man’s Bread”

The Maggid – the section of the Haggadah for Passover wherein the

actual tale of the Exodus is recounted – opens as follows: “This

[Matzah] is the bread of the poor that our ancestors ate in the

land of Egypt. Let all those who are hungry come and eat with


A number of things must be understood. Why do we use the expression?

“This[1] is the bread … that our ancestors ate” when it is not

the actual bread, but merely something similar? Additionally, this

passage seems merely to serve as an invitation for anyone who is

hungry to join in the Passover Seder. How does this relate to the

tale of the Exodus?

Moreover, as this is the first passage in the Maggid, we understand

that it contains a message that is crucial to the entire tale of

the Exodus. What is this message?

Our Sages inform us that in every generation, [2] and in fact every

day, [3] we are to see ourselves as if we are departing from

Egypt. [4] In keeping with this theme, the matzos we are eating,

baked as they were before Passover, are actually the matzos “that

were eaten in the land of Egypt.”

This explains why this passage begins the Maggid, for it informs us

that, to as great an extent as possible, we are not only to recount

the tale of the Exodus, but to actually relive the Exodus; we are

the ones leaving Egypt.

But how is this message related to the “bread of the poor”? And how

does this connect to the sentence that follows: “Let all those who

are hungry come and eat with us….”?

As long as a person is aware of himself, he has yet to leave Egypt,

or Mitzrayim, which in Hebrew means straits and limitations, and so

it is impossible for him to truly relive the Exodus. After all,

thousands of years have passed since the original event; how can he

be expected to relive it in a different century and living under

completely different conditions?

In order to truly relive the Exodus, a person must be able to

transcend the bonds of time and space in which he finds himself.

Only then will he be able to feel that he is actually leaving


This is accomplished when a person realizes how truly insignificant

he is; that he is indeed poor, and the food he is eating – that

which is responsible for his very existence – is “poor man’s

bread.” Eating “this very bread” enables him to become

appropriately humble and thus relive the Exodus.

This is also the connection to the passage in which we invite total

strangers to partake in our meal. As long as we think of ourselves

and our needs first, it is difficult to share with others, since

this means having less for ourselves. However, by acquiring the

humility necessary for reliving the Exodus, one will also become

able to share his meal.

The passage that starts “This is the bread…” concludes with:

“This year we are here. Next year may we all be in Eretz Yisrael.

This year we are still slaves. Next year may we all be free.”

What connection does the final section have with the sentences that

preceded it? According to the above, the connection is clear:

Eretz Yisrael is “a land that is constantly under G-d your L-rd’s

scrutiny; the eyes of G-d your L-rd are on it at all times.”[5] As

such, it is only by attaining the humility commensurate with eating

“poor man’s bread” that we are able to acquire “Eretz Yisrael.”

For as long as man is an entity unto himself, G-d will not reside

within him, for “G-d only resides within an entity that is

nullified to Him.”[6] Only when a person achieves a state of total

self-abnegation – “poor man’s bread” – will he attain the ability

to have G-d reside within him at all times – the level of Eretz


The same is true regarding the statement: “Next year may we all be

free.” As long as a person is confined within his own limitations,

it is impossible for him to be free. By achieving total

self-nullification – “poor man’s bread” – he rises above all

limitations and becomes truly free.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, pp. 259-263.


1. See Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein 473:14.

2. Mishnah, Pesachim 116b.

3. Addition of the Alter Rebbe at the beginning of ch. 47 of Tanya.

4. Ibid.

5. Devarim 11:12.

6. Tanya, ch. 6; see also ibid., ch. 19.


“A Belted Waist, Shod Feet and Staff in Hand”

Among the laws unique to the first Paschal offering was the

obligation that it be eaten “with your waist belted, your shoes on

your feet and your staff in your hand.”[1] This indicated the

Jewish people’s readiness to leave Egypt and their belief in their

impending freedom.[2]

Every detail in Torah serves as a lesson in a Jew’s life.[3] This

is especially so with regard to something as encompassing as

remembering the Exodus, an “important fundament and a mighty pillar

of our Torah and our Faith.”[4]

What lesson are we to derive in our own spiritual exodus from the

above-mentioned law?

Among the most important elements in a person’s life are his

achievements, particularly his spiritual and moral

accomplishments.[5] One should strive to attain these achievements

in the most complete manner possible.

It goes without saying that in order to embark on this path, a

person must first free himself from all his negative

characteristics and tendencies – elements that hinder, or at least

sharply limit, one’s ability to strive toward a life of spiritual

and moral accomplishment.

There are three specific areas in which people strive for

accomplishment, achievement and completion: with regard to oneself,

with regard to one’s immediate environs, and finally, with regard

to the greater world.[6] The way to achieve success in all these

areas is alluded to in the verse quoted above.

Spiritual and moral attainment with regard to a person himself

encompasses one’s entire mode of conduct, both with regard to

refraining from evil and to doing positive deeds, performing Torah

and mitzvos to the best of his ability.

The verse alludes to this by stating “with your waist belted.” We

readily observe that the mid-section keeps the entire body

upright.[7] In other words, the verse is telling us that we should

always behave in a proper and upright manner.

The second area in the struggle for achievement and completion

pertains to one’s relationship with his fellow man and immediate

environs. The individual seeks to help all those with whom he comes

in contact, seeking to enhance their lives, as well as generally

striving to imbue his surroundings with holiness.[8]

This is alluded to by the words “your shoes on your feet.” It is

specifically the feet that come in contact with the ground, which

is rife with objects that may harm the one who treads upon them.

Rugged protective garments are a must if someone is to walk in a

place that may be fraught with danger.[9]

So too when a person leaves his own spiritually comfortable

setting, his own spiritual “space,” and tries to influence his

surroundings – surroundings that may seek to rend, tear and gouge

his spirituality. In order to be sure that he effectively

influences others and is not himself influenced to the contrary, he

needs an extra spiritual protective layer[10] – “your shoes on your


The third area in a person’s life pertains to that part of the

world that seems so distant from him, either physically or

spiritually, that he has no idea how to reach out to it.

Nevertheless, “Each and every individual is obliged to say: ‘The

entire world was created for my sake,’ “[11] i.e., one’s

responsibility extends far beyond one’s immediate confines.

The way in which one extends his grasp and reaches out to the world

as a whole is through the “staff in your hand.” This staff will be

either the “staff of kindness” or the “staff of sternness,”[12]

whatever is most appropriate and effective. In all events, the

staff is a symbol of dominion, whereby an individual extends his

might and influence.

Although this task is daunting, the festival of Pesach, with its

concomitant spiritual empowerment, enables us to succeed. We then

merit that “I will satiate him with long days, and show him My

deliverance,”[13] with the speedy arrival of our righteous


Based on Hagaddah Shel Pesach im Likkutei Taamim, Minhagim

U’Biurim, Vol. II, pp. 775-784.


1. Shmos 12:11.

2. Commentators, ibid.

3. See Radak, Tehillim 19:8; Gur Aryeh, beginning of Bereishis; Zohar,

Vol. III, p. 53b; HaYom Yom, p. 52.

4. Chinuch, Mitzvah 21.

5. See Tanya ch. 29 (36a), beginning of ch. 32; Commentary of Radvaz

on Rambam, Hilchos Mamrim 2:4.

6. See Shabbos 54b.

7. See Igeres HaKodesh, Epistle I, Or HaTorah p. 306ff.; Hemshech

VeKachah 5637, ch. 4.

8. See Tanya, ch. 36.

9. See Hemshech VeKachah, ibid., ch. 113; Taanis 23b.

10. See Toras Chayim, Beshallach, p. 221b ff.; Or HaTorah, Shir

HaShirim, Vol. III, p. 987ff.

11. Sanhedrin 37a; Rambam, Hilchos Sanhedrin 3:12.

12. See Zechariah 11:7. See also Sanhedrin 24a; Hemshech VeKachah,

ibid., ch. 116ff.

13. Tehillim 91:16.

14. See commentaries on this verse.


Moshiach’s Feast

One of the most important elements of Pesach, the festival that

celebrates the freedom of the Jewish people, is that it serves as

a preparation for the complete and eternal Redemption through our

righteous Moshiach.[1]

Thus the verse states:[2] “I shall reveal wonders [at the time of

the final Redemption that are] similar to [those that were

revealed at] the time of your exodus from Egypt.” In fact,[3] the

exodus from Egypt made all subsequent redemptions possible, the

final one as well.

More specifically: the first days of Pesach relate mostly to the

exodus from Egypt, while the last days are more closely connected

to the coming Redemption.[4] This is also to be seen from the

Haftoras read during the final two days, dealing as they do with

the theme of each day:[5]

The Haftorah of the seventh day of Pesach is the Song of David,[6]

since on that day (as well as on the final day of Pesach) there is

a connection to Moshiach, a descendent of David.[7] Particularly

so with regard to the Haftorah on the final day, which speaks

directly about the coming Redemption.

During these two last days of Pesach, the greatest emphasis on the

final Redemption is found on the final day, Acharon Shel Pesach,

when the Haftorah speaks openly and at length about the coming

Redemption, and about the personality of Moshiach himself,[8] the

conduct of the world at that time,[9] and the ingathering of the


The relationship between Acharon Shel Pesach and the coming

Redemption was revealed to an even greater extent by the Baal Shem

Tov,[11] who instituted a special third and final Acharon Shel

Pesach meal, naming it “Moshiach’s Feast” because “this day is

illuminated by a ray of the light of Moshiach.”[12]

Even before the Baal Shem Tov instituted this special additional

meal, Moshiach was commemorated by the special Haftorah recited on

Acharon Shel Pesach. What is the significance of celebrating

something as lofty as the future Redemption with another physical


Commemorating the coming Redemption in such a fashion also causes

its radiance to permeate the individual not only in his thought

and speech (something accomplished by reciting the Haftorah), but

also in his physical body. Thus this concept is assimilated within

the person’s actual body.

Additionally, celebration and commemoration by a meal points to

the holiness that will permeate the entire physical world when

Moshiach comes. For at that time “the glory of G-d shall be

revealed, and all flesh shall observe….”[13] This permeating of

the material by the spiritual is best realized by the

sanctification of food.

For a Jew eats even an ordinary meal with the intention of

bringing holiness into this world, and how much more so with

regard to a meal on a holy day! Surely, then, the special

once-a-year Acharon Shel Pesach “Moshiach’s Feast” enables us to

better realize how all of physicality will be imbued with holiness

at the time of the Redemption.

The effect of this special event is, of course, not limited to the

day of Acharon Shel Pesach itself. Rather, the idea is that it

should affect the Jew throughout the year, so that all he does in

relation to the mundane world will be permeated with holiness and

spirituality, like the spirituality that will permeate the world

upon Moshiach’s arrival.

The lesson of Acharon Shel Pesach, however, is not limited to

man’s relationship to the physical world; it also relates to each

Jew’s inner spirituality. For the level of Moshiach is at the core

of every Jewish soul. Acharon Shel Pesach enables each Jew to

reveal this core throughout the year, thereby serving G-d with

every fiber of his being.

Based on Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, pp. 384-386.


1. See Haggadah Shel Pesach im Likkutei Taamim, Minhagim U’Biurim p.


2. Michah 7:15; cf. Or HaTorah, Nach, on this verse (p. 487).

3. See Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 164; Sefer HaMaamarim Melukat, Vol.

II, p. 37ff.

4. Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 72.

5. Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim 480:5-6.

6. Megillah 31a; Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 490:8 Shulchan

Aruch Admur HaZakein, ibid. sub-section 13.

7. Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 701a.

8. Yeshayahu 11:1-3.

9. Ibid., verses 6-9.

10. Ibid., verses 11-12.

11. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, p. 273ff.

12. HaYom Yom, p. 47.

13. Yeshayahu 40:5.


End of text – The Chassidic Dimension – Volume 4 – Pesach



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