Faith Corner With Rabbi Eli M. Levitansky
Pesach Sheni, "the Second Passover," is observed on the 14th of Iyar - May 8. The origin of this semi-holiday is quite fascinating. On the first anniversary of the Exodus, while all the Jews were occupied with preparing their lambs for the annual Paschal Offering, Moses was approached by a small group of Jews who were ritually impure and thus excluded from offering, or partaking of, the Paschal Lamb. They weren't satisfied with their "exemption" from this Passover mitzvah. "Why should we be deprived?" they exclaimed. "We, too, want to experience the spiritual freedom gained by participating in the Paschal service!" Moses agreed to convey their grievance to the Almighty, and incredibly, the heartfelt wishes of this small group caused G-d to add a mitzvah to the Torah. G-d instructed that from that year and onwards all those who weren't capable of offering the Paschal Lamb in its proper time on the 14th of Nisan, due to impurity or distance from the Temple, should offer the Paschal Lamb exactly one month later, on the 14th of Iyar.
Jewish holidays are not commemorations of historical events; rather, they are spiritual reenactments. No two holidays are alike-every holiday features a distinct spiritual energy, offering us the opportunity to gain inspiration and the necessary spiritual powers in a specific area of our service of G-d. On Passover we receive the strength to liberate ourselves from our natural enslavement to our impulses and destructive habits; on Shavuot we tap into the core of the Torah, recommitting ourselves to connecting with G-d through its study; and on Sukkot we fill the reservoirs of our hearts with true joy. We stock up on these unique spiritual powers, enough to last us for an entire year, until the holiday returns once again. The mitzvot unique to each holiday are tools which enable us to tap into the spiritual energies present at that time.
Passover is the first holiday of the year; the "holiday calendar" commencing on the 1st of Nissan. Immediately after this holiday we are taught an important lesson; a lesson which applies to all the following holidays, too. Indeed, there is a biblically mandated designated time for Passover, but a person who for one reason or another has missed out and did not take advantage of the benefits which the holiday has to offer can have a personal Passover whenever he sincerely yearns for Divine assistance in gaining personal redemption.
According to Kabbalah, the months of Nissan and Iyar are diametrical opposites: Nissan is a month pervaded by Divine Kindness; the month when G-d redeemed -- and redeems -- even those who are unworthy of redemption. Iyar, on the other hand, is a month of discipline and self-improvement; the month when we count the Omer and are involved in personal refinement in order to earn the right to receive the Torah in the following month. Yet, the penitent Jew has the ability to experience a Nissan redemptive holiday even during the month of Iyar!
The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late. Never think: "everyone else has already left Egypt weeks ago and is well on their way toward receiving the Torah-and I haven't even begun my spiritual journey! I'm impure!" Don't despair, you too can make the Passover leap and join everyone else in their state of Redemption, worthy of receiving the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot.
It's no use crying over spilt milk, because G-d has an infinite supply of milk which can be accessed anytime-provided that we have a sincere thirst, and express to Him this feeling.
Ask the Rabbi:
Passover is over, and I have tons of leftover matzah. What should I do with it? Am I still allowed to eat it?
The first thing to take into consideration is that you should make sure to save some for Pesach Sheni (the "Second Passover") which takes place on the the14th of Iyar-exactly one month after the eve of Passover. While none of the ordinary Passover restrictions and customs are celebrated on this day, many have the tradition to eat some matzah to commemorate the day. (Visit our Pesach Sheni section to see what this day is all about.)
Other than that, we are allowed to eat matzah the whole year long. If you are like me, you can enjoy crunching on your delicious matzah for many months to come. Just make sure not to eat it in the period immediately before next Passover (the exact amount of time varies according to custom), so that you will be able to eat your matzah with relish at the seder.
And if you still have too much matzah left over, you can even put it away in a clean dry place and eat it next year-yes, it really can keep that long!
Rabbi Eli Levitansky
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Six Days Shall Work Be Done
A thought for the week.
This week's Torah reading, Emor, contains the following command pertaining to the Shabbat: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Shabbat of rest... you shall do no manner of work" (Leviticus 23:3.)
How meaningful are even the most simply worded of G-d's commands! In fact, there is significance even in the sequence and order of the Torah's words concerning the Shabbat day. First the Torah commands us to work for six days and then we are commanded to rest on the seventh.
The calendar week begins on Sunday. Prevalent custom has designated this first day as a day of rest with the working week following. The Torah, however, sets the working week first, to be followed by the day of rest, the holy Shabbat. "Six days shall work be done" and only then "the seventh day is a Shabbat of solemn rest" -- the exact reverse of general practice. The precedence of labor before rest indicates that the purpose of man on earth is not to while away his time indolently, but to work for his spiritual as well as his own material welfare and for that of his community.
Immediately following the creation of Adam, the Torah states: "And the L-rd G-d took Adam, and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and guard it" (Genesis 2:15). The meaning of the verse is as follows: it is G-d's will that man work to develop within himself the spiritual qualities with which he had been endowed by G-d. In this way man can become an active partner with G-d in the development and revelation of his own and the world's innate good qualities. Having informed us that our purpose in the world is to "work it and guard it," G-d gave us the Torah (derived from the Hebrew word hora'a --"teaching") to teach us how we are to "work" and "guard" the world.
With the Torah as our guide we are able to fulfill our task and bring fulfillment to ourselves and to the world around us