Who Doesn’t Need a Second Chance? Pesach Sheni.

Apr 17, 2011 No Comments by

Jump for Joy!

(For Jews, Passover is this week. But did you know each year, there is a Second Passover?)

Who would ever say no to a second chance? In fact May 18 on the Jewish calendar is all about having a second chance. It’s Pesach Sheni, or ‘the Second Passover.’ Pesach Sheni falls on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Iyar, exactly one month after the day before Passover.

The day before Passover is the fourteenth of Nissan (on the Jewish calendar), the day when the Paschal Lamb was brought by the Jews, to the holy Temple to be offered on the holy altar. The emphasis is on the word ‘holy.’ Only those who were of ritual purity could offer the Paschal Lamb. Anyone who was defiled or ritually impure, could not bring the Paschal Lamb to the holy Temple.

THE PASCHAL LAMB.

In Jewish understanding the name implies the Lamb of God. It was a year-old unblemished lamb, set apart to be sacrificed. John, the Baptist spoke of Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29)

This is where Pesach Sheni comes in. According to Jewish belief, God in His great mercy commanded that anyone who was unable to bring the Paschal sacrifice at the proper time, either because they were impure or too far away, could have a second chance.

Num. 9:6-13 “But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day; so they came before Moses and Aaron on that day. Those men said to him, “Though we are unclean because of the dead person, why are we restrained from presenting the offering of the LORD at its appointed time among the sons of Israel?”
“Moses therefore said to them, “Wait, and I will listen to what the LORD will command concerning you.”

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the LORD. In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

“They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin.”

They were invited to share the Pesach meal, a month later on the 14th of Iyar. They were to eat it with matzoth and bitter herbs just like the Passover meal itself.

The first Pesach meal was observed the second year after the exodus from Egypt. The celebration was delayed because there were men who were ritually defiled from carrying the remains of Joseph from Egypt to Israel, to be buried in Shechem (Nablus today).

According to writings by Rabbi Schneerson, 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….” (Religious jews write G-d because the name is holy and must be treated with great respect. They fear the holy name may be taken in vain, a serious offence according to the Bible.)

Anyone who did not bring a Pesach offering, whether because of impurity or even because he had willfully transgressed G‐d’s will, was therefore given the opportunity to compensate for his shortcoming by bringing an offering on Pesach Sheni.”

The following comments by the rabbi are most encouraging.

“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 himself.”

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.”

He provides this explanation: “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 deficiencies at the earliest opportunity, in Nissan?”

“We can answer this question by comparing the spiritual characteristics of (the months of) Nissan and Iyar. Nissan is the month of revelation, the month during which G‐d revealed His greatness and redeemed the Jewish people despite their inadequacies.

“Iyar, by contrast, is the month of individual endeavor, a quality that is exemplified by the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer. 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.”

Rabbi Schneerson’s comments provide an insight into Jewish thinking.

He said: “In light of this, we can explain why the mitzvah of Pesach Sheni came about in response to the sincere request of individuals 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 surface the essential G‐dliness within us.

The institution of Pesach Sheni was prompted by the heartfelt desires of those who, despite their impurity, protested, “Why should we be prevented from bringing the offering of G‐d?”

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 service 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.”

One more paragraph from the Rabbi…

“The Pesach sacrifice was intended to motivate every individual to leave his personal Egypt, to make a radical departure from his previous spiritual state and approach a new, higher, level of divine service. The departure from Egypt is a continuous process; 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.”

Today the Jewish people believe the principle of Pesach Sheni still applies. Although so many are at home in their beloved Eretz Israel, the holy Temple is not yet rebuilt. They live in what they call, a state of ritual impurity and so many are said to be, distant from the Lord.

The second chance blessing of Pesach Sheni underlines for them the infinite kindness of the Divine.

MATZAH

The matzah is a very important part of the meal. Unlike bread, matzah does not spoil in just a few days. Bread is seen to be, puffed up – and it goes stale. Significantly they see – people are puffed up and just like bread, they have a moment of glory but then are gone.

Pesach Sheni reminds the Jew of the power of humility.
When one accepts the invitation to grasp a second chance, they admit their earlier impurity – they confess their need to celebrate the divine Presence and to find their hopes and ambitions in Him.

“Before O Hashem, I was impure and not worthy to seek your holiness!” What a relief for them to find the Lord of Mercy allows this second chance?

Batsheva

The story of Batsheva appears in the second Book of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. Her name is translated as meaning ‘Daughter of The Oath’. She was the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

In her time, the Israelites were engaged in war under the rule of King David. Batsheva’s husband was a promising soldier. Whilst at the battlefield, Uriah left his wife alone at home. One day, when she was bathing on her balcony, David noticed her from his palace rooftop. He was taken by her beauty, and summoned his servant to find out exactly who this young woman was.

When the servant returned with the news that she was married to Uriah, David insisted that he see Batsheva at once: “David sent messengers to fetch her. She came to him and he lay with her.” (Samuel 2:11:4) Without refusal or questioning on either side, the two committed a sin according to the laws of the Ten Commandments.

We know the story. Batsheva fell pregnant with King David’s child. She sent him word: “I am pregnant.” (Samuel 2:11:5) David devised a plan to clean up his mess.

“Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest, and then fall back, so he may be killed.” (Samuel 2:11:15)
David’s actions made God extremely angry. When Batsheva gave birth to a son it lived for only seven days in suffering. The baby’s life was taken for David’s wrong.

The figure of Batsheva is silent throughout the Biblical tale, with the exception of her message to David that she was pregnant. Questions have been raised about her marriage to Uriah and its stability, especially since she did not even flinch at David’s request to meet her. Although she did mourn her husband’s death, she soon married David.

Bathsheva’s second son with David was named Solomon, and he lived to become King of Israel. Her second chance evidenced by the birth of Solomon, was perhaps God’s consolation for her difficult situation.

Hezekiah.

The Virtual Jewish Library develops the biblical reference of the actual observance of the Second Passover at the time of *Hezekiah, found in II Chronicles 30:1–27.

2Chr. 30:1-9 “Now Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem. Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and all the assembly. So they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed.
The couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his princes, even according to the command of the king, saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria.

“Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see.

“Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the LORD and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you.

“For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”

1) Hezekiah made certain invitations were sent.

2) The people were ritually unclean, unprepared, not available during the First Passover but now that could all be rectified. “Thus this thing was right in the sight of the Lord.”

3) All Israel and Judah were notified. They were called to ‘return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.’ They sought to be righteous before Him.

4) Previous generations had ignored the call. “Do not be like your fathers and your brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their fathers.’ This was a plea, a challenge.

5) They were called to yield to the Lord and ‘enter His sanctuary.’

6) “For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”

Hezekiah’s hopes were dashed when many ignored his invitation.

People were so deeply into idolatry, they ignored him.

The northern kingdom was under threat to Assyria. So many had gone so deep into idol worship, allegiance to the One True God was treated as a bit of a joke. Those who did respond came from Asher, Manasseh, Zebulun and the people of Judah came thoroughly prepared to stay on for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The people of Judah came to the feast in great numbers. When they came, they first moved all of the heathen altars out of the city. Those idols were thrown into the brook Kidron.

a) Christians are under attack today by secular humanism and idols of many kinds.

b) Christianity is regarded by many in politics and the media as little more than a joke, a fantasy.

c) Nevertheless the true believers come.

d) They remove the idols and seek to worship with a clean, pure heart.

Hezekiah as a king chose his religious values above political alliances. The help he sought was from the living God. Alfred Edersheim said ‘this was the secret of his success.’

Hezekiah announced openly the sins of the past. He called on the faithful to make a covenant with the Lord.
This principle of the second chance is important for all of us.

Psalm 30:2
“God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.” (The Message)
Nahum 1:7
“God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, No matter how desperate the trouble. But cozy islands of escape He wipes right off the map. No one gets away from God. Why waste time conniving against God? He’s putting an end to all such scheming. For troublemakers, no second chances. Like a pile of dry brush, Soaked in oil, they’ll go up in flames.” (The Message)
***
Job 33:29
“God gives each of us chance after chance.” (ESV)
Praise God, He provides each of us great opportunity to get right with Him, to be freed from the heavy bondage of sin and to enjoy the joys of His love and mercy.

Bible Blog

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong he ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. With a heart for Israel Ron was appointed national director of Bridges for Peace, Australia. At the invitation of the BFP International Board he moved to Jerusalem and worked in the BFP Jerusalem headquarters for five years. Back in Australia he is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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