Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Second Chance

היום חמשה ימים לעומר
Today is five days of the omer
הוד שבחסד
A day of humility in a week of loving kindness

The Torah I will be chanting tomorrow morning includes the instructions for "Pesach Shainee" - a second chance, one month later, to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering our flight from slavery to freedom for those who were unable to be a part of the official commemoration.

Now, the reason for missing the first seder needs to be a good one:
When any of you or of your posterity who are defiled by a corpse or are on a long journey would offer a passover sacrifice to Adonai, they shall offer it in the second month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs...
Numbers 9:10 - 11
And don't even think about lying to get out of the seder:
If a  man who is clean and not on a journey refrains from offering the passover sacrifice, that person shall be cut off from his kin, for he did not present Adonai's offering at its set time; that man shall bear his guilt.
Numbers 9:13
The only vestige of Pesach Shainee left in our ritual is a reminder to eat some matzah that day. But it still has a purpose in our narrative. Our ancestors put great importance on the Pesach ritual, so much so that they built in a second chance to practice. They wanted us to keep telling this story--reliving it every year. 

Maybe it was to keep our history alive, giving our "tribe" a way to survive. If so--well, it worked.
Maybe it was to teach us the need to free ourselves from oppression in any form.
And that is an equally important gift of survival.

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