2017-06-07 / Religion Column

Pesach Sheni: It’s never too late!

RABBI NATHAN WEINER
Congregation Beth Tikvah

Parashat Beha’alotcha
Num. 8:1-12:16

As the academic and religious calendars wind down, and as spring turns to summer, now is an opportune time to reflect on the previous year. The Torah, in Parashat Beha’alotcha, teaches us that we are given a second chance at doing things right. By exploring where our “impurities” kept us from living up to our full potential, we can do the things we need to do to be who we want to be.

Take some time to think about the things you sought to accomplish this year, and consider the stumbling blocks that prevented you from giving those items the attention you would have ideally wanted to give them. Perhaps they pertained to yourself, your body, your relationships with friends and family, with God, your synagogue community, etc. What was the thing, or things, that stood in your way? What clouded for you, the path?

Numbers 9:1-14 presents a plan for teshuva, rectifying previous inabilities to do what you intended to do. Pesach Sheni, or the second Passover, is established as an example of how to use time today to rectify a past missed opportunity.

“Moses spoke to the children of Israel (instructing them) to make the Passover sacrifice. So they made the Passover sacrifice in the first month, on the afternoon of the 14th day of the month…so did the children of Israel do. There were men who were ritually unclean… So they approached Moses and Aaron on that day. Those men said to him, ‘We are ritually unclean… why should we be excluded so as not to bring the offering of the Lord in its appointed time, with all the children of Israel?’ Moses said to them, ‘Wait, and I will hear what the Lord instructs concerning you.’ The Lord spoke to Moses saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel saying, Any person who becomes unclean…or is on a distant journey… shall make a Passover sacrifice for the Lord. In the second month, on the 14th day, in the afternoon, they shall make it…” (Num. 9:4-11).

Those who missed the opportunity to make the Passover sacrifice, a very important practice, were afforded an opportunity to do so at a later date. It was not too late! We thus return to the question of what YOU missed out on doing the first time around. What are some opportunities for rectification?

One example of something many people missed out on pertains to their own Jewish education. Often, adults tell me that they wish they had gained a deeper understanding of Judaism in their youth. They confess that they disliked the Hebrew school of their youth either because it was just bad, or because of their own youthful lack of foresight. They regret this lack of knowledge, given their own current desires for deeper connections to Judaism, God, and spirituality.

But again, it is not too late! There are many opportunities in our community for adult education. Consider prioritizing (yes, really prioritizing!) your own Jewish learning. You could attend a lecture at your local synagogue. Participate in a Torah study. Dive into the Arts, Books, and Culture festival this fall at the Katz JCC. Sign up for the Community Beit Midrash in the spring at KBA.

At Cong. Beth Tikvah, we are launching an “Introduction to Judaism” year-long course this coming fall. On Monday nights, from October-May, join a group of similarly interested adults for weekly study about the foundational elements of Judaism. You don’t even need to be a member. Each participant will also receive monthly individual meetings with me to help you navigate your own spiritual journey. We hope you will consider participating in this, or one of the other wonderful adult learning opportunities in our community. Remember, as we learn in this Torah portion: It is never too late! 

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