Compiled by Dina Fraenkel

Pesach Sheini represents the second chance, available to every Jew, to reach one’s spiritual goals. The year after the Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people were commanded to bring a Pesach offering on the 14th of Nissan. The sacrifice was incumbent on every male, but some were not ritually pure and, therefore, were unable to bring the sacrifice.

“There were some men who were ritually unclean from contact with the dead, and were unable to prepare the Pesach offering on that day; and they came before Moshe and Aharon that same day. Those men said to him: ‘We are ritually unclean from contact with the dead. Why should we be deprived of bringing the offering of Hashem at its appointed time among the Children of Israel?’ Moshe said to them: ‘Stand by, and I will hear what Hashem will command concerning you.’ G-d spoke to Moshe… ‘If any person of you or your future generations shall be ritually unclean from contact with the dead, or be on a distant journey, he shall still make the Passover-offering to the L-rd. He shall make it on the 14th day of the second month [Iyar]…’”1

As the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, explained, “The idea of Pesach Sheni is that nothing is irretrievable; we can always rectify our behavior. Even one who was ritually unclean or who was on a distant journey – even willingly – can still rehabilitate himself.”2 The Rambam writes that even a Jew who intentionally (i.e. was tahor and not on a journey) failed to offer the Pesach sacrifice and was subject to the punishment of kareis (spiritual excision of the soul) did teshuva and offered the sacrifice on Pesach Sheini he would be forgiven.3 This is the power of Pesach Sheini.

Although we no longer have the Beis HaMikdash in our midst, the concept of Pesach Sheini applies to all Jews in all times and we observe it by eating a kezayis of matzah on Pesach Sheini. A Jew, who is far from Torah and mitzvos, even if he has intentionally strayed from the path of his parents, can always return to Hashem and to his real essence.4 No omission in one’s service to Hashem cannot be rectified; no sin cannot be repented. A Jewish neshama remains a cheilek Eloka mi’ma’al mamash (an actual spark of Hashem), no matter how far it falls from Torah observance.5

For a Jew who observed Pesach properly the first time, Pesach Sheini seems unnecessary. Why does a Jew who brought the Pesach offering need to mark Pesach Sheini? B’nei Yisroel is always awaiting Moshiach’s arrival and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. If the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt during the time between Pesach and Pesach Sheini, we will have to bring the Pesach offering on Pesach Sheini.6 The mitzvah of awaiting Moshiach’s arrival obligates all of us to prepare for Pesach Sheini immediately after Pesach.

This is a parallel for our personal Divine service. Hashem commanded: “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will dwell within them [within each and every Jew7].”8 The cheilik Eloka mi’ma’al inside every Jew can never be destroyed and today, when the Beis HaMikdash is unfortunately not in our midst, we still perform all of the proscribed rituals through our tefillah and observance of mitzvos. Just as some men were not able to make the Pesach offering on the 14th of Nissan, sometimes each of us fails to perform a mitzvah or serve Hashem to the best of our ability, either intentionally or accidentally. Just as Hashem is infinite and without constraint, so is the Divine service of a Jew. We can always reach a higher level; there are always new levels of service that we can strive for. Therefore, Pesach Sheini is applicable to every Jew, every day, every year. There is always a need, and an opportunity, for a second chance in our Divine service, either to rectify an omission, or to increase the level of our service.

Pesach means ‘leaping over’ and Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which is cognate to the word meitzorim, which means limits. A person’s character, his upbringing and mode of life, indeed nature itself, act as constraints on his cleaving to G-d with unbounded enthusiasm, preventing a person from climbing higher in Divine worship. The exodus from Egypt in spiritual terms means a Jew must leap out of the limits of his previous level of service and enter a hitherto inaccessible plane of sanctity….His observance of Pesach, although complete at the time, has now become inadequate. He becomes obligated to observe Pesach Sheini.”9

May we all jump to take our “second chance” and increase the level of our own observance, bringing more Divine sparks into the world and adding the final brick to the Beis HaMikdash HaShlishi, ushering in the Final Redemption bimheira v’yameinu.

1. Bamidbar 9:6-11.
2. HaYom Yom 14 Iyar.
3. Rambam, Hilchos Korbon Pesach 5:2.
4. See Likkutei Torah, Parshas Ha’azinu, p. 142. Days of Destiny, Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedakah, p. 9ff.
5. Tanya, ch. 2.
6. According to most opinions. See Minchas Chinuch, Mitzvah 380.
7. See Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaAhavoh, ch. 6; Shaloh, Shaar HaOsiyos, Os 30; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Nasso.
8. Shemos 25:8.
9. Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XII, pp. 216-220 Shabbos Parshas Emor, 5738.