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Second Chances

06/11/2020 06:12:42 PM


Beha’alotecha tells a story of second chances. God commanded the Israelites to observe Passover, the first anniversary of the Exodus. Life, then as now, was imperfect - there were those Israelites who were not able to participate because they were ritually impure or on a journey. Moses asked God what is to be done, and God replies that there is a solution for those individuals. They may observe Passover a month later through a practice known as “Pesach Sheni.” Those who do not have such an excuse are held accountable for not observing the important holiday.

A few months ago, as Passover was approaching, many people looked at this portion and wondered whether it shouldn’t apply this year. A few asked me: “couldn’t we do Pesach Sheni this year? Surely a month from now this whole COVID-19 thing will be over?” As it turned out, May was not much better than April, so Pesach Sheni wouldn’t have helped us.

For the Israelites in the desert, it was the impurity of death, or the distance of a journey that prevented them from achieving their goal of offering the Passover sacrifice. Many of us are facing factors in our own lives that prevent us from achieving our goals. I’m working with a lot of families that are looking ahead to “second chances” for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and other milestones that were either rescheduled, or held on a much smaller scale, and hoping to celebrate with friends and family in the future.

This past week, Georgia had our own “Pesach Sheni” - we had an election that had already been pushed off. Apparently, we could have used another month to get ready. I was fortunate that even though my absentee ballot never arrived, I was able to head out and wait just 25 minutes to vote, but we all know the stories of others who waited much longer, or were not able to vote at all. Some have blamed the COVID-19 epidemic or recent protests. Let’s hope that the embarrassment of botching something so basic to our society will drive our leaders on the county and state levels to prepare properly for next time. Each of us can do our part to make sure that any leader who does not do their all to enable every citizen to vote ends up themselves being on the wrong end of a ballot next time.

There are many reasons why things get pushed off and delayed. Our tradition says that when matters are truly out of our hands, there is not only a second chance, but even a third. When we had a chance to prepare and didn’t, God holds us accountable.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784