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Shavua Tov

Only six days until Shabbat!

  • Daniel Botkin

Second Passover

Passover is one of three annual pilgrimage festivals, when all the males of Israel were expected to be in Jerusalem. (See Exodus 23:14-17.) There is the normal Passover, and there is also Pesach Sheni, “Second Passover.” If an Israelite was unable to celebrate Passover on the 14th of Nisan because he was on a journey, or because he was in a state of ritual impurity that disqualified him from eating the passover, then he could celebrate Passover on the 14th day of the following month. (See Numbers 9:6-12.) This Passover is called Pesach Sheni.

This accommodation to celebrate the feast a month later is made only for Passover. If you miss celebrating any of the other feasts, there is no provision made to celebrate those feasts a month later.

During the Passover seder, it is customary for a child to ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” If you have ever attended a Passover seder, you have probably heard this question. Since there are no sheni options, no “second chances,” for any of the other feasts, we could also ask, “Why is this feast different from all other feasts?” as well as “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

I do not know why this provision is made only for Passover and not for any of the other feasts. Passover is the first of the annual feasts, so maybe that bestows some sort of primacy on it.

Let me close with a true Pesach Sheni story.

A few years ago, our disabled daughter, Autumn, participated in the local Special Olympics, the athletic event for kids with disabilities. That year, the Special Olympics happened to be held on Pesach Sheni.

My wife and I and our daughter Emily sat in the bleachers to watch Autumn run in the foot race. But before the athletic events began, there was an opening musical presentation put on by the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus were all decked out in their fancy suits, and their big funny hats, and their long capes as they solemnly marched to the music with their colorful banners held high.

I noticed that all the Knights of Columbus had red capes, except for one, who was wearing a purple cape.

I turned to my daughter Emily and said, “Hey, Emily. Look at the Knights of Columbus. They all have red capes, except for that one guy with a purple cape.”

“Yeah, that’s odd,” Emily replied. “I wonder why.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Why is this knight different from all other knights?”

Emily groaned and I grinned.


| DB

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