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The idea that is embedded in the commemoration of Pesach Sheni is truly a unique and exceptional one. The Torah generally provides no opportunities for do overs. One cannot fulfill the commandment of shofar or of lulav at any other time except those set aside for those commandments in the month of Tishrei. Yet here, regarding the Pesach offering complete with the commandments of matzoh and maror, the Torah provides that if, under certain circumstances, one was unable to fulfill these commandments in the month of Nissan he will be able to do so in the month of Iyar.
There are many ramifications to understanding this exceptional situation. The Torah provides that if one was ritually impure or was too distant from Jerusalem to perform the commandment in the month of Nissan, he or she is given the opportunity to fulfill this obligation a month later. Since the holiday and commandments of Pesach are inextricably associated with the general concept of the redemption of Israel from exile and persecution, the ramifications of the laws regarding Pesach Sheni have special relevance and importance in Jewish history, even when the Temple no longer stands completed in Jerusalem.
There is an immediacy associated with this concept and that immediacy perhaps has even greater relevance and insight for our present time and national circumstances. For, in effect, our generations have been granted another opportunity to rebuild the Jewish people in the Jewish homeland. If we were unsuccessful, as apparently we were previously, or that previous Jewish generations for some reason did not take the opportunity to return to the land of Israel or did not have such an opportunity, we their descendants have certainly been granted that do-over, a make-up opportunity that Pesach Sheni represents. We will be charged as to what we did or did not do with this opportunity and situation.
Over the centuries many opportunities for Jewish settlement in the land of Israel were ignored or even aborted by the Jewish people themselves. There were many historical and even religious reasons for this behavior. But the main reason was that they felt themselves to be impure and unworthy of success in such a momentous, unprecedented endeavor. They were also physically very far away from Jerusalem, a city mostly desolated and physically unattractive under foreign faiths and rulers who were not particularly friendly towards any sort of Jewish presence within their domain.
The idea of redemption, national revival and the return to the land of Israel was, in practical terms, placed on the back burner of Jewish life. The very idea of a messianic redemption served to postpone if not even negate any action on the part of the Jewish people themselves in returning and rebuilding themselves as a nation in their ancient homeland.
The messianic idea of a supernatural person who would rectify all wrongs and overcome all problems in an instant became a legendary truth amongst the people of Israel. Because of this we have suffered from false messianism, which allowed charlatans and other more well-meaning individuals to claim that they had the keys of redemption in their hands. For nineteen centuries the Jewish people dreamt of Jerusalem, but it was in terms of a dream and not in terms of actual progress.
The state of Israel as it is presently constituted, after 70 years of its existence and success, is a national illustration of the idea of redemption as expressed in the concept of Pesach Sheni. This time, against all odds, predictions, religious sentiments and political experts, the Jewish state arose after thousands of years of exile and persecution. And it did so in a completely unpredictable and perhaps very uncomfortable manner. It was headed by Jews whose loyalty to Torah and Jewish tradition was questionable and sometimes not apparent. It had with it many moments of matzah and maror – disputes, violence, half-baked ideas and no shortage of inner and outer enemies. Yet, it has weathered these storms and the miracle of the ingathering of the exiles has occurred before our eyes, just as the ancient prophets of Israel stated that it would.
The challenge before all of us is how to deal with this opportunity that the Lord has granted us in an intelligent, realistic and faithful manner. We will have to admit to ourselves and perhaps even publicly that the ways of the Lord are not discernible to us and that it is arrogant for us to think that the One Above must somehow conform to our preset ideas and imagined processes. We are living in a generation of Pesach Sheni.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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