Getting A Second Chance

Do we ever get a second chance in life?

A year after leaving Egypt, the people of Israel were to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nissan. They were to roast it and eat it with matzah and bitter herbs that evening just as they had done a year earlier prior to their exodus.

However, some of the Israelites had become ritually impure (by having contact with a dead body) and consequently could not participate in offering the Paschal lamb. They came to Moses and wanted to know why they should lose out and not be able to bring the offering like everyone else.

Moses took their concern to God who was very sympathetic to their plea. As a result, He instituted that anyone who was not able to bring the Passover offering at its proper time may do so a month later on the 14th of Iyar (Numbers 9:1-11).

Today is the 14th day in the Hebrew month of Iyar. This special day is known as Pesach Sheni – the second Passover. It is the holiday of second chances.

Of course, Passover marks the birth of the nation of Israel and the concept of second chances is central to the Torah outlook. All humans make mistakes and sin – no one is perfect. What are we to do?

The prophet Ezekiel zeroed in on this very question, “Since our sins and iniquities are upon us, and we are wasting away because of them, how can we live?” (Ezekiel 33:10)

God replies, “…I do not desire the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person turns from his way that he may live. Repent, repent from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11)

Remember – when we make mistakes we can always press the reset button.


Of course we need to ask why is a second chance at Passover the only positive commandment where God makes a special provision for the person unable to perform it. Why isn’t there a similar provision for someone who was not able to sit in a Sukkah one year because of horrible weather? Why isn’t there a second Rosh Hashanah for those who were not able to get their hands on a shofar to blow when the holiday normally comes around?

It seems that the unique nature of Pesach Sheni (the second Passover) is that it materialized through the initiative and lobbying of people who truly felt deprived. Their insistence that they be given a second chance was a profound expression of their incredible love for God’s commandments. From their perspective, it was so important for them to bring the Passover offering that nothing would stop them. In the face of such passion, God granted their request.

What made Pesach Sheni special was that we fought for it. There are sometimes commandments that we find ourselves blocked from performing. We may have spiritual goals that seem to have insurmountable obstacles. The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that if we truly desire to achieve something noble with all of our hearts – God will find a way to make sure that we will be able to do so.