Pesach or Passover is a holiday that many have heard about. A less well-known Jewish holiday is Pesach Sheni or the Second Passover. This intriguing festival falls a month after Pesach, on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. The idea behind the festival is that when the Temple stood, those who were not able to bring the Passover offering on Passover, were able to do so then.Nowadays, Pesach Sheni is marked simply by eating Matzah- in the same way that the Afikoman is eaten at the Seder meal on Passover eve in commemoration of the Passover offering.

The source for the Second Passover is in the book of Numbers in the ninth chapter, when two weeks before the first anniversary of the Exodus, on the first of Nissan, G-d speaks to Moses. It is related that G-d tells Moses that the fourteenth of Iyar will be Pesach Sheni in order to give those who had been ritually impure on Pesach a chance to bring up the Passover offering. It is relayed that the people who had been ritually impure approached Moses and Aaron and said that they felt it was unfair that they should be deprived of offering up the Passover offering. Moses took counsel with G-d, who told him that from now on, anyone who was ritually impure on the first Passover will have the chance to offer up the Passover offering a month later and shall eat it with Matzah and bitter herbs in the same way that it is eaten on Passover.

There is a beautiful message behind Pesach Sheni; a message of the power of return. The sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950) said that it I never too late to correct a past failing. Even if one missed a certain opportunity to fulfill an aspect of his or her’s life mission, due to being disconnected from G-d, there is always a Second Passover when one can make up what s/he missed.

Teshuvah is a Hebrew word that is often miss-translated as repentance, when in fact it is so much more than just turning over a new leaf and being forgiven for past wrong-doings- it is the power of being able to redefine the past. When a negative deed or experience is re-experienced in a way that completely transforms it’s significance, this is Teshuvah. One’s contact with darkness can cause one to strive for things he would never have strived for without that experience- negative experiences are literally turned inside-out.