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Kenneth Cohen

No Second Chance

The punitive system of the Torah is set up where a punishment only comes for the violation of one of the 365 commandments. There is no punishment for the non-fulfillment of one of the 248 positive Mitzvot.

There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is the failure to observe the Mitzva of circumcision, or Brit Mila. And the second is the failure to offer the Pesach sacrifice.
We learn in our Parsha about an episode where Moshe Rabbeinu was asked a question, he could not answer. Those individuals charged with carrying the remains of Yosef, asked him if they could have a make up date for the Korban Pesach. Since they were ritually unclean, they could not offer that sacrifice in the proper time.
Hashem needed to tell Moshe that there would be a make up date on the fourteenth of Iyar, known as Pesach Sheini.

There is a clear definition of this ruling. Only those who were ritually unclean, or those that made an effort to get to Jerusalem in time for Pesach, but through unforeseen circumstances they did not arrive, these two groups could offer the Pesach sacrifice. Those who were lazy and procrastinated, and did not have a legitimate excuse for the non performance of this Mitzva, were barred from Pesach Sheini. The penalty for no Brit Mila or no Korban Pesach is “Karet,” or excision, being cut off from the Jewish people.

Being apathetic and not observing Mitzvot with alacrity and enthusiasm, carries with it, a heavy price. If we expect our children and grandchildren to love Judaism, we need to show them how important this observance is to us. This is what leaves a lasting impression. When they see us consistently observing our traditions with joy, we have a chance that they will follow in our footsteps.

The lessons learned from Pesach Sheini, may seem trivial, but they carry a deep and profound message.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at www.cafehebrew.com