Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Pesach Sheni
To dedicate this lesson
Pesach Sheini



Rabbi Berel Wein

Iyar 5768
This past week the Jewish world commemorated the day of Pesach Sheini - the 14th of Iyar which in Temple times made accomodation for those Jews who were unable to sacrifice their paschal lamb on the 14th of Nissan, the proper time for this offering to be made. What makes this day of Pesach Sheini so unique is the idea that the Torah here provides a second chance for those who missed their first opportunity for fulfilling the paschal lamb obligation. Usually the Talmudic maxim "when the proper time has passed, the opportunity for the sacrifice offering has expired." Yet here the Torah provides the proverbial second chance to fulfill the paschal lamb offering. The question of giving people a second chance has been debated in Jewish society and the general society as well for millennia. Indiscretions can be forgiven in many cases but they are rarely if ever forgotten.Politicians who made personal or political mistakes always appeal for a second chance. Most times they are really not tever trusted again by their families or constituents. Yet we have many instances in the Torah of great people who made mistakes - sometimes grievious ones - and were not only forgiven when they truly repented but continued as leaders and great heroes of Israel. So the concept of granting people a second chance is built in to the worldview of Judaism. Yet like everything else in Judaism and Jewish life, a sense of basic balance and a dose of good common sense are required before granting second chances.

One should never allow a repentant serial thief to be near the cash register of one's business or to be its keeper of the books. Someone suspected of being a pedophile, no matter how 'cured" he or she claims to be, should never be allowed into a classroom in a teaching position. In personal matters the ability to grant a second chance is a personal choice of those who feel victimized. Not everyone is so blessed as to grant second chances easily. Yet we ask the Lord daily, in fact thrice daily to grant us second chances. The basis for Judaism is that even the greatest sinner is capable of redemption if the apppeal to one's Maker is truly sincere. The story of God's forebearance with the Jewish people after the incident of the Golden Calf is illustrative of this. In fact the story of Israel throughout its long and uneven history is one ofsecond chance granted. David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Ezra, Mordecai, the Hasmoneans are all illustrative of second chances granted to individuals and the Jewish people generally by the Lord of Osreal. In fact if it were not for this concept of second chances granted none of us would have a hope for success and immortality.In fact the current State of Israel is really a third chance that has been granted to the Jewish people to establish a moral and special sovereign state in thge Holy Land. We should be inordinately grateful to the Lord Who grants us so many repeated opportunities for greatness and eternal accomplishments.

Many a relationship, family, busines, community, has been salvaged by the ability to grant a second chance to someone. Sometimes the hurt is so great or the offense is of such magnitude that granting a second chance is unlikely and even unwise.forgiveness and forgetfullness are not always the wise or proper decision. There are always other considerations involved. Nothing occurs in a vacuum in this life. So the effect of a second chance on other members of the family, company, classroom and community must always be kept in mind. Oftentimes the magnanimity of granting a second chance to someone is given at the expense of other people affected by
that decision. If I make this matter therefore sound very complicated it is because the issue is a very complicated and sensitive one. Each instance must be decided on its own merits and immediate circumstances and to the extent possible future consequences of the decision as well. Since we are not blessed with prophecy this mkes the matter even more touchy. So as in everything else in life all of this is a very delicate and requies wisdom, balance and forebearance. But I am certain that all of my loyal readers are willing to grant this writer more than a second chance.
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