Sunday, May 22, 2005

In life there are no second chances

Tomorrow (Monday, 14 Iyar) is Pesach Sheni, the "second Passover", one month after the first one.

Were you ritually impure last month and thus unable to offer the paschal lamb? Or maybe you were on the road? According to Numbers 9, you're in luck! If you missed the first Pesach, just do Pesach Sheni tomorrow and all is well. Pesachim 9:1 says you can do Pesach Sheni even if you just forgot the first time around. Pesachim 9:3 says that Pesach Sheni is like regular Pesach in every way (viz., the lamb is eaten roasted with matzah and maror (the original Hillel sandwich was shwarma!), slaughtering and cooking the lamb overrides Shabbat prohibitions, and hallel is sung when the lamb is prepared) with two exceptions: you don't have to get rid of chametz for Pesach Sheni, and hallel is not sung when the pesach is eaten. So your Pesach Sheni seder might be shorter, and you can serve bread along with the matzah.

However (Pesachim 7:6), if the majority of the community is ritually impure (as is certainly the case this year), then Pesach happens on 14 Nisan (the regular date) anyway, since the importance of Pesach overrides any problems with ritual impurity. So I guess no one is observing Pesach Sheni this year except by blogging about it.

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