Pesach Sheni: Second Chances
A Jew who, due to extenuating circumstances (outside of Jerusalem or
spiritually defiled), was unable to bring the Korbon Pesach, paschal lamb
on the 14th Nissan there was a second opportunity. Pesach Sheni, Second
Passover was exactly one month later (14th Iyar) whereupon this offering
could be brought.
What is striking is how, unlike most other commandments, a second chance
was given to sacrifice the Korbon Pesach in Jerusalem. We do not find that
someone without an estrog and lulav on Succos can perform this one month
later. Nor is the man who missed hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah given
So what is so special about the Korbon Pesach that this warrants a second
The Exodus experience is central to Jewish belief (see our essay on Sipur
Yetzias Mitzrayim). This historic event, together with its miracles,
confirmed divine providence and the supernatural destiny of the chosen
nation whose lives and history revolves around G-d.
This historic event marked the Jewish nation’s birth. Indeed, the Exodus
is depicted in terms of a newborn baby emerging from the womb to assume
its individual identity (Yechezkel 16:4).
It was at that point, when the Jewish people stood on the threshold of
their redemption, that they performed two commandments: bris milah,
circumcision and Korbon Pesach. Non-performance of these positive precepts
is punishable by kares, excision and their exclusion from the community
and from G-d.
In line with their national birth, a convert to Judaism is considered like
a newborn baby (in the sense of assuming a new identity), who undergoes
circumcision prior to his inclusion in the Jewish people. Actually, the
Korbon Pesach itself necessitated that the male participator be
This was not an ordinary offering or just another mitzvah. Rather, the
Korbon Pesach was the individual’s association and whole-hearted
identification as a proud member of the Jewish nation. It symbolized the
initiation sacrifice – commemorated annually – which celebrates joining
the ranks of the Jewish people.
This is underscored by the Talmud entertaining the possibility whether a
convert to Judaism must automatically offer up a Korbon Pesach (see Exodus
12:48 for their juxtaposition). This offering is, so-to-speak, inherently
Jewish. And it is to be eaten together in a communal setting of fellow
So important is the Korban Pesach, like circumcision in the formative days
of a Jewish boy’s birth, this was slaughtered when the Jewish nation came
into being upon their Exodus.
It is for this very reason that a second chance was made available to the
individuals that were originally unable to participate because of their
distance or impurity on Pesach Sheni. Those that approached Moshe posed
the question: “lamah nigorah, why should we excluded?” (Numbers 9:7). In
effect, they were protested how they should not be excluded or placed
outside the circle of their Jewish brethren.
Pesach Sheni provides the second opportunity, one month later, to revisit
their national origins. It is here that these individuals are able to
stake their claim as proud and worthy members of G-d’s chosen nation.
Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene and Torah.org.