Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pesach Sheni

(פסח שני (הגדה של פסח

Pesach Sheni is the answer. But what is the question? It depends. A group of people came to Moshe and told him that they couldn’t bring Korban because they were impure as a result of contact with the dead (Tamei Mes.) Who were these people who came to Moshe?

The Gemara (Sukah 25) tells us that they were either the people who carried Yosef’s Aron or Eltzafon and Mishael, who carried Nadav and Avihu’s bodies out of the Ohel Moed. Each group of people had a specific problem. Pesach Sheni was the answer to both of them.

The Zohar says that the Schechina calls out for thirty days after pesach to all of the people who didn’t bring the Korban. Hashem wants us to accept avoda totally, and sometimes we aren’t ready. There are many times when we find ourselves losing a battle to win a war. We might lose at one point only to win in another.

Yosef Hatzadik teaches us about this. Yosef went into the Tumah of Egypt, in order to pave the way for the rest of the Jews to go down to Egypt and come up out of exile, receive the Torah and inherit the land of Israel. This is called a Yerida (going down) L’tzorech Aliyah (In order to go up.) Therefore Yosef represents the idea of Yerida L’Tzorech Aliyah.

When the Jewish people accept Gerim, the process functions in way of Yerida Ltzorech Aliya. In order to bring the Gerim up out of the nations of the world, the Jews decline in stature a little bit. This is why the story of the Misoninim (the complainers see Bamidbar 11) happens right after Moshe taking in Yisro in and makes him a part of the Jewish people. The Jewish people absorb some of the negativity which surrounded Yisro in his previous life. This is the Yerida part

However, there is an Aliyah part as well. Gerim bring a level of excitement to the Jewish people which can be lacking. The Kedusha of a Jew exists in two forms, the inherent holiness which was inherited from the forefathers Chukim and the holiness which a person achieves through their own achievements and desire. A Ger is the personification of the desire to receive Torah, but they have no inheritance of the Judaism.

This concept can be found the Pesukim of Pesach Sheni. The Pesukim say that a born Jew will do the Pesach with all of its Chukim, whereas a Ger will do it with its Chukim and Mishpatim. What is the difference? Chukim means that a person has an internal holiness which is not subject to the effects of one’s actions. Mishpatim means a holiness which comes as a result of their actions. The lack of Mishpatim in the description of the ordinary Jew’s Pesach Sheni shows that the Kedusha which depends upon their actions is at a loss, as the Jew has missed out on bringing the Korban Pesach.

However, the Ger has both as a result of the Pesach Sheni. Through Pesach Sheni, a Ger brings back the fire of receiving the Torah to the Jewish people. Through the Pesach Sheni, a Ger reaches the level of Chukim, the integral, immobile Kedusha. The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the bringing of the Korban Pesach like being born (Chukim) into the Jewish people (Sicha Achraon shel Pesach 5728, Sichos 12 p 216) and by the Ger bringing a Pesach Sheni Korban, it is their birth into the Jewish people.

This phenomenon is seen as well when Yisro was accepted to the Jewish people he was given a piece of land in Israel. A portion in the land of Israel only comes as an inheritance. This shows that Yisro was given the Kedusha of Chukim, not just that of Mishpatim.

Therefore, according to the opinion that Pesach Sheni was requested by the carriers of Yosef’s Aron, the purpose of Pesach Sheni is to show how there is an Aliyah after Yeridos.

The Gemara has another opinion as well. “Rebbe Akiva said, the people who were Tameh were Eltzafon and Mishael.” Eltzfaon and Mishael were Aharon’s nephews. They were given the job of removing the bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the Kodesh Kodashim. In the depths of theirs heart they had a complaint- why were Nadav and Avihu not saved?

The Korban Pesach is reflective of Hashem’s ability to save in the blink of an eye. But this was a contradiction to what they were feeling in the depths of their hearts. “Even though they knew that Hashem does save people,” they thought, “at the same time, our cousins weren’t saved.” Hashem didn’t want them to act one way and feel the other. This is why they said, “We can’t bring the Korban.” It wasn’t just the impurity, it was the complaint they had against Hashem, however small in the depths of their hearts.

According to Rebbe Akiva, the purpose of Pesach Sheni is to teach us that sometimes when we’re not ready, and Hashem waits for us.