Avrohom Leventhal
Avrohom Leventhal

The Community of One

The Mishna in Sanhedrin (4:5) teaches that “one who saves the life of another is considered as if he/she saved an entire world”.

Beyond the accolades given to the rescuer is the understanding that each individual has unique importance and is in fact a “world” unto him or herself.

Every person is placed on this earth with something to contribute and the potential to make the world a better place.

The Korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), mentioned in this parsha, is the synthesis of the individual in relation to the community.

On one hand, the Korban Pesach has the status of a “Korban Yachid” (a private, individual sacrifice), as it is the obligation of an individual to bring his own and not part of the communal sacrifices, or the daily and the special holiday offerings.

On the other hand, the Korban Pesach enjoys the status of a communal sacrifice in that unlike other private sacrifices, it can be offered even on Shabbat and even when the majority of the community is in a state of impurity.

The commandment to offer the Korban Pesach coincided with the Exodus from Egypt and the founding of the Jewish nation. While the nation is of tremendous importance, it is only a nation because of its individual members.

The Korban Pesach, our first sacrifice as a nation, combines the individual’s contribution together with the communal sacrifice.

No other private sacrifice has such a status.

The parsha recounts how those people who were unable to offer the Korbon Pesach at its commanded time came to Moshe for counsel.

HaShem instructed him about the Pesach Sheni, the “second chance” to bring a Korbon for someone who missed the first chance for reasons beyond his/ her control.

Why does the Korbon Pesach, of all sacrifices, merit a second chance?

The message of the individual vis a vis their relationship to the community is so fundamental to God’s plan that He instituted Pesach Sheni.

He values the sacrifices and contributions of each and every person, and He affords another opportunity to bring that Korban.

Imagine if we could emulate that quality to look at individuals, and see their past experiences and potential, and what they bring to the world. That elderly person sitting on a park bench is a full world unto herself, as is the newborn baby asleep in his crib.

Our universe is made up of all those unique “worlds”, each one as important as the next.

Take a moment to consider who they are and what they have or might one day accomplish.

People have faults and make mistakes. That’s part of being human.

The Korbon Pesach and Pesach Sheni is the opportunity to give them and us, that “second chance” by recognizing all that they, and we, are and can be.

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author
Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, noted educator and speaker, is the Executive Director at Lema'an Achai.
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