"G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: 'If someone becomes impure on account of a corpse or is on a distant journey…he may bring the Pesach offering on the fourteenth day of the second month'…." (Num. 9:9-11)

The theme of Pesach Sheini (literally, "the second Passover", which takes place on the fourteenth of Iyar, one month after Passover) is that it is never too late. It is always possible to put things right. Even if one was spiritually impure or spiritually distant from his proper destination at the time of the Paschal offering, G‑d still gives him an opportunity to change the past and correct the wrongs; he may sacrifice it on Pesach Sheini, a month later. On that day, one may have both matza and leavened bread together with it in the house; it is not a festival (there is no prohibition of work), and there is no prohibition of leavened bread except eaten together with the Temple offering. (Pesachim 95ab, Rashi) Pesach Sheini…is drawn from a source of transcendent spirituality…

There are two methods of serving G‑d: the path of "righteousness" and the path of "repentance" (literally "teshuva", literally "return"). The path of righteousness is represented by the regular Passover celebration. Those utilizing this method fulfill their mission directly: they stay away from impurity and do what is required. But because they operate within the context of the limited, material world, methodically elevating it and ascending through it, they must carry out their service systematically. Anyone who wishes to offer or eat the Passover sacrifice must be pure. There must not be any leaven - or the spiritual impurities it represents - to contravene divine consciousness. And, even with all of that, it takes a full seven days to fully integrate and appreciate the spiritual energies of the holiday.

Pesach Sheini, on the other hand, embodies the approach of teshuva. In order to return to the proper path, it is not enough to merely avoid impropriety; the individual must address the fact that he has succumbed to the forces of evil and use this fact to strengthen the weak point in his relationship with G‑d. When he does this, he transforms the power of evil into holiness and his previous sin into a source of merit, thereby obtaining G‑d's forgiveness for his misdeed. This capacity - the ability to change that which is already done and to overcome wrongs that have already been perpetrated - is drawn from a source of transcendent spirituality, a level beyond merit or iniquity. It taps into the essential relationship between man and G‑d, which is not predicated on our obedience to His will. This connection can never waver, for it is intrinsic in nature; the essence of the Jewish soul is one with G‑d whether they obey His will or not. The leaven need not be banished, since we are ready to elevate it…

Because Pesach Sheini, is an exercise in transcendence, it does not require the methodical preparation required by the regular Pesach. The leaven need not be banished, since we are ready to elevate it, too. Earlier impurity no longer matters, for it cannot destroy this intrinsic connection. And one day is enough, for this connection transcends time as well as behavioral issues.

If, as has been explained, Pesach Sheini embodies a higher degree of divine service, why is it reserved for those who became defiled? Why could one who brought the sacrifice on the first Pesach not enjoy the sublimity of the second? How was he to achieve the advantages of transcendence?

A sacrifice manifests connection (as the word for "sacrifice", "korban", is derived from the root meaning "closeness"). One who achieved the required connection to G‑d through bringing the sacrifice in its proper time would achieve - through continuing to grow systematically - the second level of service as well, and did not require a special "jump". Over the course of the month following the first Pesach, their original connection initiated ever more sublime degrees of connection. Hence, they did not require any further catalysts to ensure this growth. It was only those who had deviated from the proper path and had never begun a proper journey of growth that needed to skip directly to the transcendent. They required a catalyst, an offering to be brought in the second month, because without that "jump", they would have remained helpless and unchanged.

Why do we celebrate the Pesach Sheini nowadays? We were not obligated to bring the sacrifice on the first Pesach. Why do we mark the secondary choice?

The answer is that we celebrate its spiritual meaning. We celebrate the added capacity to achieve a higher degree of spiritual connection. And, we celebrate its lesson: no matter what may have happened in the past, no matter what we may have spoiled, it's never too late. We still have the ability and opportunity to change - not only our futures, but even the effects of the past.

[Based on HaYom Yom, 14 Iyar; Likutei Sichot, vol. 18, pp. 120-2; vol. 33, pp. 58-61
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org