Pesach Sheni – פסח שני
By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, occurs on the 14th day of Iyar, the second month. It is a make-up date for individuals who were tamei, unclean, or traveling during Pesach, the first Passover. The Sefer HaChinuch, positive mitzva 380, explains that Chazal, our Sages, specifically included those who convert and those who reach the age of Bar Mitzva between the first Pesach and Pesach Sheni. The Rambam says that a boy or girl who reaches Bar Mitzva age after Pesach but before Pesach Sheni, should not participate in the first Pesach (as a child) and should bring Pesach Sheni (as a halachic adult). If, however, they did eat Pesach Rishon, then they do not bring Pesach Sheni.
Pesachim 66b However, when the majority of the nation is impure, rather than push them off for a whole month, the halachah itself is pushed off by another halachah that says, offer the Pesach-Offering anyhow. Such is the power of the community, and its fulfillment of its commitments to HaShem: We have [thus] found that the tamid and the Passover override the Sabbath; how do we know that they override uncleanness? — I will tell you: just as he learns the Passover from the tamid in respect to the Sabbath, so also does he learn the tamid from the Passover in respect to uncleanness. And how do we know it of the Passover itself? — Said R. Johanan. Because the Writ saith, If any man of you shall be unclean by reason of a dead body: a man [i.e.. an individual] is relegated to the second Passover, but a community is not relegated to the second Passover, but they must offer it in [a state of] uncleanness. R. Simeon b. Lakish said to R. Johanan: Say, a man is relegated to the second Passover, [whereas] a community has no remedy [for its uncleanness]. neither on the first Passover not on the second Passover? Rather, said R. Simeon b. Lakish. [It is deduced] from here: [Command the children of Israel,] that they send out of the camp of every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is unclean by the dead: let [Scripture] state those who are unclean by the dead, and not state zabin and lepers, and I would argue, if those who are unclean by the dead are sent out [of the camp]. how much the more zabin and lepers!
The details of Pesach Sheni are found in:
Bamidbar (Numbers) 9:6-14 And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: And those men said unto him, We [are] defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of HaShem in his appointed season among the children of Israel? And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what HaShem will command concerning you. And HaShem spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or [be] in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto HaShem. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, [and] eat it with unleavened bread and bitter [herbs]. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. But the man that [is] clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of HaShem in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. But the man that [is] clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of HaShem in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto HaShem; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
[This Pesach Sheni episode occurred before the counting of the people as recorded in the opening portion of Bamidbar, the book of Numbers. It was not placed at the beginning of the book because it is embarrassing to the Children of Israel that they (we) only brought this one Pesach offering in the entire forty year Wilderness period.]
The first thing we notice with regard to the mitzva of Pesach Sheni is that it was not given in the standard way. The standard way was by the usual chain of command of Torah: From HaShem to Moshe, then to Aaron and the elders. This mitzva of Pesach Sheni had to be evoked by the demand of a group of people who felt their spiritual failing (in being tamei, since spiritual impurity represents the antithesis of nearness to HaShem), and, to boot, were in contact with dead bodies, themselves a symbol of distance from HaShem, the source of all life.
These men who were aware of their spiritual distance, were anxious to turn this around and become nearer to HaShem. The Pesach lamb was the perfect way to acknowledge their distance and reconnect with their source.
The Pesach lamb is a unique offering. Before the exodus from Egypt, all offerings were burnt completely on the altar. For man to attempt to eat that which was designated for HaShem would have been a desecration of the offering. The first meat of a offering that man was allowed to eat was the Pesach offering. Thus it was a declaration that Bnei Israel were ‘a holy people’, whose bodies were elevated to the holiness of an altar. Only they could eat that which was designated for HaShem; and when they did, it was considered as if the offering was burnt on the altar. This is why the Torah restricts our diet. Just as we may not desecrate the altar with an unacceptable offering, so too a Jew may not defile his body with food that the Torah deems unfit.
Pesachim 93a Our Rabbis taught: The following keep the second [Passover]: zabin and zaboth, male lepers and female lepers, niddoth and those who had intercourse with niddoth, and women after confinement, those who [do not observe the first Passover] inadvertently, and those who are forcibly prevented, and those who [neglect it] deliberately, and he who is unclean, and he who was in ‘a journey afar off’. If so, why is an unclean person mentioned? [You ask] ‘why is he mentioned’? [Surely to teach] that if he wishes to keep it at the first we do not permit him? Rather [the question is] why is [a person] on a journey afar off mentioned? — To exempt him from kareth, this being in accordance with the view that it is accepted.
Anyone who did not bring a Pesach
offering, whether because of impurity
or even because he had willfully transgressed HaShem’s
will, was thus given the opportunity to compensate for his shortcoming by
bringing an offering on Pesach
Sheni. This gave everyone the ability, late though it may be, to rejoin the community of
Regarding the Pesach sacrifice, even though a time was specified for it to be brought and the Torah twice emphasizes that it is to be offered at its appointed time, if circumstances prevented a person from bringing it at its appointed time, the Torah provides him with a second time — the fourteenth of Iyar.
Why was this special consideration given? Because the Pesach offering is unlike all other sacrifices. For all other obligatory sacrifices, public or private, there is no expressly stated punishment for failing to bring them. However, the punishment for failing to bring the Pesach sacrifice is most severe. The Torah states:
Bamidbar (Numbers) 9:13 And that soul shall be excised from its people.
Since the punishment for violation of this mitzvah is so severe — excision from the source of life — it follows that the reward for bringing it must also be exceedingly great, for the reward granted for the fulfillment of a mitzva is far greater than the punishment for having violated it. Hence, one who merits to bring the Pesach sacrifice at its appointed time, cleaves to the source of life amidst the people of Israel.
Rashi, quoting the Talmud in Pesachim 93b, points out that there is a dot that appears in the Torah scroll on the last letter of the word ‘rechoka’ (on a distant journey). This dot comes to teach us that ‘rechoka’ need not be taken literally; indeed, even if a person stood on the threshold of the courtyard, right outside where the Pesach lamb is being sacrificed, on the 14th of Nisan, and intentionally refused to join in the sacrifice, even this person is to be given a second chance. In effect he had been on a distant journey; he wandered far away from serving HaShem.
Pesach Sheni, then, is like Chanukah, which was a make-up for Succoth. These are the only two festivals that provide a second chance for certain individuals to be able to celebrate. The fact that these are the only festivals with a make-up, suggests that these two festivals are related. This bi-modality of the months was discussed in greater detail in the study of rains.
The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the Pesach offering stands as a clear and strong sign that our destiny is in the hands of HaShem. When we were taken out of Egypt, HaShem performed great miracles and changed “nature” in a spectacle that was open to all for the viewing. The whole world saw that HaShem is the one who runs the world. At that time, all the Children of Israel believed in HaShem and recognized the role He plays in our lives. As the Pesach offering carries with it such great significance, HaShem wanted everyone to have the opportunity to demonstrate their belief. Therefore, one who was unable to bring the offering for a reason beyond his control had the opportunity to bring the offering a month later, in the month of Iyar.
Bamidbar (Numbers) 9:6-7 And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: And those men said unto him, We [are] defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of HaShem in his appointed season among the children of Israel?
The Talmud asks a very interesting question:
Succah 25b But is the law that he who is engaged on one religious duty is free from any other deduced from here? Is it not deduced from elsewhere, As it has been taught: And there were certain men who were unclean by the dead body of a man, etc. Who were these men? They were those who bore the coffin of Joseph, so R. Jose the Galilean. R. Akiba said, They were Mishael and Elzaphan who were occupied with [the remains of] Nadab and Abihu. R. Isaac said, If they were those who bore the coffin of Joseph, they had time to cleanse themselves [before Passover,] and if they were Mishael and Elzaphan they could [also] have cleansed themselves [before the Passover]. But it was those who were occupied with a meth mitzvah, the seventh day [of whose purification] coincided with the eve of Passover, as it is said, They could not keep the Passover on that day, on ‘that’ day they could not keep the Passover, but on the morrow they could? — [Both texts] are necessary. For if he had only informed us of the former, I would have said [that they were free from the obligation there] because the time of the obligation of the Passover had not yet come, but not here where the time of the reading of the Shema’ had come, [therefore] it was necessary [to have the latter]. And if he had informed us of the latter only, I would have said [that one is exempt here] because this does not involve kareth, but not there, where it involves kareth [therefore the former also was] necessary.
Midrash Rabbah - Exodus
During the entire forty years’ wanderings in the
wilderness, the bones of Joseph traveled with them.
God had said to him [Joseph]: ‘Because thou hast
said: “I will feed you” to thy brothers, I assure thee that when thou art dead,
thy bones will journey with them for forty years in the wilderness,’ as it says: But there
were certain men, who were unclean by the dead body of
a man (Num. IX, 6). The word ‘man’ refers to Joseph,
for it says: The tent which He had made to dwell
among men (Ps. LXXVIII, 60), and then: Moreover He abhorred the tent of Joseph (ib. 67)
For the sake of thy bones shall they celebrate the lesser Passover. For he had straightly sworn the children of
Israel (Ex. XIII, 19). Why is the word ‘hishbia’’ repeated? Because he [Joseph] swore that he had nothing in his heart against them, and they swore that they had nothing
against him. Why did he request: ‘And ye shall carry up my bones away hence
with you ‘? R. Levi said: It can be compared to a man who brought his wine into
the cellar, and thieves came and took away the barrels and drank their
contents. When the owner of the wine found those who had stolen the barrels of
wine, he said to them: ‘Ye have drunk the wine: at least return the casks to
their place.’ Similarly, it was from Shechem that the
brothers of Joseph had stolen him and had sold him:
and when he was about to die, he adjured them: ‘ My brothers! ye have stolen me
from Shechem while I was alive, I pray
you, return my bones to Shechem.’ For this reason does
it say: And the bones of Joseph, which the children
So, who were these “masked” men?
Thus we see the pathos of the situation. Why would these men, who were performing the mitzva of burying the dead, worried about being exempt from the command of Pesach? If they were exempt, why were they moaning about it?
The answer should cause us great concern. These great men thirsted to perform the mitzvot of HaShem. They did not want to be exempt! They were bummed out because they couldn’t perform the mitzva of Pesach. For men with such desires, HaShem is eager to accommodate. Let us be men who hunger and thirst for righteousness; men of valor who are eager to perform the mitzvot.
The Tiferet Shlomo, Rabbi Shlomo of Radomsk, says the reason is that the people mentioned in our Parsha who were unable to participate in the Passover sacrifice demonstrated such a tremendous level of dedication to fulfilling the mitzvah that HaShem decided to create the fall-back option of Pesach Sheni for them and for all future generations.
The same holds true for the Final Redemption of the Jewish people, says the Tiferet Shlomo. At the end of the exile, when the Jews will pour their hearts and souls into bringing about the Messianic era, HaShem will hear them and respond to their devotion by redeeming them before the appointed time, just as He did during the Exodus from Egypt.
The Tiferet Shlomo has just given us a VERY important clue! Pesach Sheni was tailor made to give us insights into the Messianic era. Apparently this festival will be immensely important to the Messianic redemption. It is as though the Children of Israel will be defiled, as in the days of Hezekiah, and will require Pesach Sheni.
Pesachim 95a WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST PASSOVER AND THE SECOND? THE FIRST IS SUBJECT TO THE PROHIBITION OF [LEAVEN] SHALL NOT BE SEEN AND [LEAVEN] SHALL NOT BE FOUND; WHILE AT THE SECOND [A MAN MAY HAVE] LEAVENED AND UNLEAVENED BREAD IN THE HOUSE WITH HIM. THE FIRST REQUIRES [THE RECITING OF] HALLEL WHEN IT [THE PASCHAL LAMB] IS EATEN, WHEN THE SECOND DOES NOT REQUIRE HALLEL WHEN IT IS EATEN. BUT BOTH REQUIRE [THE RECITING OF] HALLEL WHEN THEY ARE SACRIFICED, AND THEY ARE EATEN ROAST WITH UNLEAVENED BREAD AND BITTER HERBS, AND THEY OVERRIDE THE SABBATH.
2. Pesach Rishon has Hallel, not the Sheni.
3. Both require Hallel when they are sacrificed.
5. Both override the Shabbat.
Rashi on Bamidbar 9:10, writes that Pesach Sheni differs from Pesach Rishon in that on Pesach Sheni, “one may have Matza and Chametz (leaven) together in one’s house... and there is no prohibition, except with him while he eats” That is, the only prohibition of Chametz on Pesach Sheni is to eat the Korban Pesach, the Passover offering, itself with Chametz. One is allowed to have Chametz in his home, though.
There are other differences:
Rashi tells us that on Pesach Rishon, one is Tamei, unclean, and he sees that there is no one else who is Tamei, one should make someone else Tamei in order to have a partner in bringing the Pesach Sheni offering.
The answer teaches us the differences between those that use the energies of the times and those who must recover the lost time. Pesach Rishon is an emphasis on HaShem giving us our freedom through miracles. Pesach Sheni emphasizes that we can become a part of the community and regain our closeness to HaShem, in an instant.
The details of the differences between Pesach Rishon and Pesach Sheni, like all details of Torah law, are not trivial, but go straight to the heart of what the mitzva is all about. The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that HaShem gives second chances, that one can never be so far removed from HaShem that it is hopeless to try to return to Him. So we would expect that the episode that triggered the giving of this mitzva, and all of its aspects, should reflect the struggle of the Baal teshuva, the penitent sinner, to re-establish his relationship with HaShem.
Chronicles 30:1-26 And Hezekiah
sent to all
Gevurah of Hod
Discipline in Humility
Humility must be disciplined and focused. When should my humility cause me to compromise and when not? In the name of humility do I sometimes remain silent and neutral in the face of wickedness? Humility must also include respect and awe for the person or experience before whom you stand humble. If my humility is wanting, is it because I don’t respect another?
The supply of “Egyptian” matzot was exhausted. Targum Yonatan b. Uziel, Shemot 16:2
Hezekiah celebrated because priests were unclean. II Chronicles 30:2-4
The Chatam Sofer says that it was on the 18th of Iyar (Lag B’Omer) that the Bread from Heaven, the Manna, began to fall. This is based on the idea that the matza that we brought out of Egypt lasted until the 14th of Iyar, which marks the 14th of Iyar as the end of the Pesach time frame, hence its choice by HaShem for Pesach Sheni. Then the people went hungry for three days the 15th, 16th, and 17th of Iyar. This was the cause of their complaint. HaShem gave them the Manna on the 18th. This adds to the celebratory nature of Lag B’Omer.
Another explanation is offered by the Ba’al Haturim. The matza that the Israelites brought with them was finished on Pesach Sheni. The following day, the manna fell for the first time. (Pesach Sheni was the day of the slaughter of the second lamb; it would be eaten on the following day, that is, nightfall on the fifteenth of Iyar. This is the same date on which the manna first fell! Pesach Sheni thus commemorates the conclusion of the matza from Egypt and the beginning of the miracle of the manna.
On the shabbat before Pesach Sheni we have a special Ashlamata. Sephardim call this, “Shabbat VaY’hi BaShanah - וַיְהִי בַּשָּׁנָה – “And it came to pass in the year”. The ashlamata is taken from Yechezechel 20:1-20. This ashlamata contains a thrice repeated command that we observe HaShem’s Sabbaths and perform His mitzvot so that we may live. This ashlamata is related to Pesach Sheni. Pesach Sheni is a second chance to celebrate Pesach for those who were unclean on Pesach. This makeup was meant to provide the mitzva for those who were genuinely unclean from burying the dead. However, this makeup also has the potential for being abused.
On Pesach Sheni we do not have a command to remove leaven or to eat matza for seven days. Those who are lazy might be tempted to use this make-up chance to cover laziness. Therefore, the ashlamata comes to remind us, three times, to observe HaShem’s Shabbats, including Pesach. We must see the mitzvot as tremendous opportunities to serve HaShem AND LIVE!
Here is what Yechezechel had to say in this special ashlamata:
Yechezechel (Ezekiel) 20:1-20 And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of HaShem, and sat before me. 2. And the word of HaShem came unto me, saying: 3. ‘Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them: Thus says the Lord HaShem: Are you come to inquire of Me? As I live, says the Lord HaShem, I will not be inquired of by you. 4. Will you judge them, son of man, wilt you judge them? Cause them to know the abominations of their fathers; 5. and say unto them: Thus says the Lord HaShem: In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up My hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up My hand unto them, saying: I am HaShem your God; 6. in that day I lifted up My hand unto them, to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had sought out for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the beauty of all lands; 7. and I said unto them: Cast away every man the detestable things of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am HaShem your God. 8. But they rebelled against Me, and would not hearken unto Me; they did not every man cast away the detestable things of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt; then I said I would pour out My fury upon them, to spend My anger upon them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9. But I wrought for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known unto them, so as to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt. 10. So I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. 11. And I gave them My statutes, and taught them Mine ordinances, which if a man do, he will live by them. 12. Moreover also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am HaShem that sanctify them (set them apart). 13. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they walked not in My statutes, and they rejected Mine ordinances, which if a man do, he will live by them, and My sabbaths they greatly profaned; then I said I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. 14. But I wrought for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I brought them out. 15. Yet also I lifted up My hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the beauty of all lands; 16. because they rejected Mine ordinances, and walked not in My statutes, and profaned My Sabbaths - for their heart went after their idols. 17. Nevertheless Mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make a full end of them in the wilderness. 18. And I said unto their children in the wilderness: Walk not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols; 19. I am HaShem your God; walk in My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them; 20. and hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am HaShem your God.
Ezekiel 22:1–19 - “V’ata Adam”
Amos 9:7–15 - “Halo Chibne Chushiyim”
From the two cyles of the Triennial Torah cycle, we find that Pesach Sheni is the second chance to celebrate Pesach for those contaminated by the dead. The Torah portions concerns the death of Adam and his progeny who were given a second chance.
The answer is found in the Hebrew word for month: “Chodesh“, from the same word as “chadash” meaning new. As the moon is renewed in a month, so we will be renewed in a month. Thus, this conveys the concept that only after one’s mind and spirit has been “renewed” can one be prepared to offer the Pesach sacrifice. Indeed, this is certainly consistent with today’s practice of mourning in various “stages”. The shloshim or thirty day period is a dividing line where most of the restrictions of mourning are lifted.
* * *
The month of Iyar is symbolized by the mazzalot called Shor, the bull, which desires to dwell in isolation. Iyar is therefore a time of introspection and self-development, a time of preparation for receiving the Torah in Sivan.
Luqas (Luke) 24:46-51 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Mashiach to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Luqas (Acts) 1:6-9 When they
therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at
this time restore again the kingdom to
Yochanan (John) 18:28 Then led they Yeshua from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
The Previous Rebbe explained that, Pesach Sheni teaches us that ‘Nothing is ever lost: it’s never too late!’ Our conduct can always be rectified. Even someone who is impure, who was far away and even desired to be so, can still correct himself.” There is no justification for despair. Every individual, no matter what his situation, always has the potential to make a leap forward (the literal translation of the Hebrew word Pesach) in his service of HaShem.
* * *
This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
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 Sefer haHinnuch, The Book of [Mitzvah] Education, evidently by Rabbi Pinhas (brother of Rabbi Aaron) haLevi of Barcelona, with translation and notes by Charles Wengrov, Volume IV, page 79, Feldheim Publishers.
 Responsa: Yoreh Deiah 236
 Rashi Commentary for: Shemot (Exod.) 16:35 forty years Now were not thirty days missing? The manna first fell on the fifteenth of Iyar, and on the fifteenth of Nissan it stopped, as it is said: “And the manna ceased on the morrow” (Josh. 5:12). Rather [this] tells [us] that in the cakes the Israelites took out of Egypt they tasted the flavor of manna.-[from Kid. 38a]. Author’s comments: This suggests that the matza that they ate for the first thirty days also had the same qualities as the manna.
 Also known as the Septennial Torah cycle.
 HaYom Yom, p. 53