Rabbi Dunner discusses an obscure Jewish calendar date known as ‘Pesach Sheini’. Its origins are very clear – the first year after the Exodus the Jews were instructed to bring the Passover Sacrifice on 14 Nisan, the first time they would do so as a completely free nation.
After the instruction was given a group of individuals approached Moshe and complained that it was not possible for them to participate as they were ritually impure . Moshe consulted with God and then informed them that exactly a month later, on Iyar 14 in the afternoon, they would be able to bring the Passover Sacrifice, which they would then eat that night together with matza and maror.
This strange episode throws up numerous questions, not least because the laws of Pesach Sheini persisted throughout the period of the Temples, and will also be reinstated when our Temple is rebuilt. What is really puzzling is why anyone would have thought it was bad not to bring a Passover Sacrifice if there was a legitimate reason for them not to bring it!
Even more puzzling is the fact that there is no other mitzva in the Torah that offers us a second opportunity – so, to put it in seasonal language, why is this mitzva different from every other mitzva?
Rabbi Dunner delves into the Pesach Sheini narrative in Bamidbar, together with a number of commentaries, in an effort to discover what prompted the complaints, and to see whether the concept of Pesach Sheini is a kind of ‘consolation prize’ or if it represents something else entirely.