In the portion of Behaalos'cha, the Torah relates [ 1 ] how the Jewish people brought the Paschal
offering in the desert on the fourteenth of Nissan, one year after their
Exodus from Egypt. At that time, certain individuals were ritually
impure and so could not bring their offering.
In response to their lament "Why should we lose the privilege of
bringing the offering," G-d said that those unable to bring the Paschal
offering on the fourteenth of Nissan could do so one month later, on the
fourteenth of Iyar. This "makeup" offering is known as Pesach Sheni, the
In the simple context of the verse, there are three elements that may
prevent one from bringing the Paschal offering at the appointed time.
a) the individual was ritually impure during the time of the offering;
b) the person was outside the Courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash;
c) the individual's chametz was still in existence.
Why are these three elements prerequisites to offering the Pesach
Rishon, the "First Passover"?
All sacrificial offerings, korbanos, possess three general components.
First and most essential is - as indicated by the name korban, which is
derived from the root karov, or near - that of drawing close to G-d. [ 2 ]
The second aspect of korbanos is that they elevate that which is below
to the higher spiritual realms. This applied particularly to the portion
of the korban that was consumed by the heavenly fire which descended
upon the altar. [ 3 ]
The third element in korbanos is they draw down G-dliness from above.
This applies mainly to the portion that was eaten by the priests, or by
the individual who brought the offering. By consuming the korban, its
sanctity permeated the individual, becoming his very flesh and blood.
[ 4 ]
With regard to the Paschal offering, these three elements exist to an
even greater degree, for the following reasons:
The closeness to G-d accomplished by the Paschal offering is far greater
than that achieved by other offerings. This is because the spirituality
attained is not merely an advance from level to level, but rather - as
the name Pesach (Hebrew for "leaping" [
5 ] ) implies - that a Jew is thereby empowered to "leap" out of his
previous existence, becoming an entirely new entity. The Paschal
offering thus surpasses other offerings, after the bringing of which a
person remains essentially unchanged.
The elevation of that which is below to a higher spiritual realm is also
greater in the Paschal offering than in other offerings, for the
elevation is accomplished even in that portion that is eaten. This is
because that part as well is to be "roasted over fire. [ 6 ] Fire - rising as it does from lower to higher -
echoes the elevation from below to above.
So too with regard to the G-dliness drawn down through eating the
Paschal offering. It too is greater than that afforded by other
offerings, for "the Paschal offering originated for the purpose of being
eaten." [ 7 ]
In order to accomplish these three things, it is necessary
- for the person's chametz to have been destroyed;
- that he be ritually pure; and
- that he find himself within the confines of the Beis HaMikdash.
Chametz denotes arrogance. [ 8 ]
Since G-d says of a haughty individual that "We cannot dwell together,"
[ 9 ] the possession of chametz
precludes drawing close to G-d, something that is integral to the
The state of ritual impurity counters the elevation contained within the
Paschal offering. Ritual impurity is an intangible; it cannot be grasped
physically or even intellectually. [ 10
] It consists of a change in a person's spiritual status, whereby a
soul's spirituality is diminished. It therefore hinders a person's
ability to lift himself out of the physical world and become part of the
Being outside the Beis HaMikdash involves the physical body. Although a
person may desire to be inside the Beis HaMikdash, and consequently -
because of his heartfelt desire - in a spiritual sense he indeed is
inside, [ 11 ] his physical self is
still outside. This is the opposite of the drawing down of G-dliness
accomplished by eating the Paschal offering.
Pesach Sheni teaches us that even when one is lacking in any, or even
all, of these three elements, and thus cannot bring the Paschal offering
in its appointed time, "it is never too late; one can always rectify the
past." [ 12 ]
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, pp. 67-74.
- Back to text Bamidbar 9:1-16.
- Back to text See Sefer HaBahir, section 109. See also Bachya, Vayikra 1:9; Pri Eitz Chayim, Shaar HaTefillah, ch. 8.
- Back to text See VeHu Omed Aleihem 5663.
- Back to text See Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas Achilas Kodshei Kalim LaKohanim; VeHu Omed, ibid.
- Back to text See Rashi, Shmos 12:11.
- Back to text Shmos 12:9.
- Back to text Pesachim 76b.
- Back to text Likkutei Torah, Tzav, p. 13c, et al.
- Back to text Sotah 5a. See also Tanya, ch. 6.
- Back to text See Rambam, conclusion of Hilchos Mikvaos.
- Back to text In line with the saying of the Baal Shem Tov (quoted in Mayim Rabbim 5636, ch. 113, Rifa'eini 5698, ch. 5); "Wherever the person's desire is, that is where he is in his entirety."
- Back to text HaYom Yom, p. 53.