Yom Yerushalayim, for many years, has been very bittersweet for me. That was the day in 1989 I left Israel with my family, with just a little hope left that we’d return in just a couple years. As I’d pass it each of 26 times in Galut, it seemed to rub my nose in the new reality that I no longer really had any place or special relationship with Jerusalem.
This evening begins my fourth celebrating it here again. Each time it begins, I’m filled with the sense of having been given a second chance.
Last week also saw Pesach Sheni, a “second” Pesach. Accommodations were made if someone was unable (sickness or too far away, etc.) to fill their obligation to visit the Temple in Jerusalem three times each year, (with Pesach which included the unique Karbon Pesach, the Pesach sacrifice, each family would offer). they could come exactly one month later and celebrate that day just as if it were “normal” Pesach. In many ways, Pesach was the most important family celebration of the year, so missing it would have been a big deal. Thus, those who missed out their first opportunity would find, built into the system, a second chance.
As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’ve become a lot less demanding, both of people in my life, as well as on myself. This is the day I remind myself that no matter how badly I might screw things up, and each of us does that from time to time, nothing is irredeemable. We might not be able to go back in time and change things but whatever actual opportunity(ies) we missed, there is always a way to make amends, to repair things, to continue on our various lives’ works. As long as we can fill our lungs with breath, we can fill our hearts and our lives and our surroundings with light.
Am Yisrael Chai!