Friday, 8 May, 2020 - 1:26 pm

You know the text message I received from a heavy smoker acquaintance: “I just read an article on the dangers of heavy smoking. It scared the daylights out of me. So that’s it: after today . . . no more reading!”

The fourteenth day of the month of Iyar that is today we are celebrating the "Second Passover."

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, this day served as a "second chance" for those who were unable to bring the Passover offering on the eve of the "first" Passover one month earlier, the 14th of Nissan. Today, we mark and commemorate the date by eating matzah.

 How did this unique “second chance” holiday come about? Indeed, it has no parallel to any other Jewish holiday? With every other holiday, you missed it, you missed it. What made Passover unique, to actually receive this gift of a second Passover?

The answer is two weeks before the first anniversary of the Exodus,

G-d spoke to Moses in the Sinai desert saying:

 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: Any person who is contaminated by death, or is on a distant road, shall prepare a Passover offering to G-d. They shall eat it with matzahs and bitter herbs...."

There is something strange about this story.

The law of the Second Passover, instituted in response to the outcry of those who protested, "Why shall we be deprived?" is one of the few cases in which a mitzvah was elicited from G-d by a petition from mortal men.

Why wasn't the provision for a Second Passover included in the Torah's initial legislation of the laws of Passover? G-d certainly knew that some Jews are not in a position to bring the offering. There is another strange law regarding this second Passover.

The first Passover we are forbidden to own chametz. Not so on the Second Passover.

On the second Passover, "leaven and matzah are with him in the house." Why?

The significance of the Second Passover is one message: “it is never too late”. I can always rectify, in some way, a past failure. But how? Can I always fix my past? What if I made big mistakes? What I neglected some serious duties? What if I burnt so many bridges? Of course, I can apologize, and I must apologize, I ought to express remorse, make good on what I can, make mends, face up to my mistakes, ask forgiveness, and resolve not to do it again.

With good inner work and serious therapy, I may find recovery, and reinvent myself, not allowing my past traumas and sins to become my eternal destiny.

But can we really believe, that “it is never too late?” I can take accountability for the future, changing what will be. But the past seems lost forever! It is what it is, as the slang goes.  

Yet this is the revolutionary idea of the Second Passover—even if you have failed, you still can reclaim your Passover. The past is not lost. But how so?

Says the Talmud: Reish Lakish said, that repentance, is great, for as a result one's

deliberate and intentional sins are transformed into merits! Yet, this seems strange. How can it be?

Once Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev met an infamous sinner in the street. The Rabbi was known to always find and accentuate the positive in every person and every experience. So this sinner, trying to mock at the good innocent rabbi, says to him: So Rebbe, do you have any nice and kind words to say to a sinner like me?

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak told him: "You know something? I am jealous of you! After all, the Talmud says that after you return to G-d with love, your deliberate sins will become merits! Imagine how many merits you will have!"

The man replied: "Really? Come back to me next year, and you will have much more to be jealous of!"

But in the end, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s words touched the person. He truly repented and lived up to the Berdichever's hope for him.

The explanation for this takes us to the heart of recovery and the idea has first been articulated in the Tanya.

When I repent out of love, not just out of fear, then what happens is that my very negative experience becomes part of my new relationship with G-d, with truth, with my soul. The very sin I have committed now becomes part of my love; it allows me to experience a far more mature, sober, deep love and appreciation for the truth.

Take an addict who undergoes real recovery and truly surrender to the Higher Power. What happens in the process is that the addiction, the betrayal, and the depression itself becomes the starting point and springboard for a whole new depth and passion in living.

The teacher gave her fifth-grade class an assignment: Get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it. The next day the kids came back and one by one began to tell their stories.

Kathy said, "My father's a farmer and we have a lot of egg-laying hens. One time we were taking our eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the pickup when we hit a bump in the road and all the eggs went flying and broke and made a mess." "And what's the moral of the story?" asked the teacher. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket!" "Very good," said the teacher.

Next little Lucy raised and hand and said, "Our family is farmers too. But we raise chickens for the meat market. We had a dozen eggs one time, but when they hatched we only got ten live chicks and the moral to this story is, don't count your chickens until they're hatched." "That was a fine story, Lucy."

This is true in each of our lives. We make mistakes, we fail, we sometimes make the wrong choices. Yet, Judaism teaches, that we can turn around and redefine the very sins and mistakes we made into unforgettable teachers that continue to inspire our new-discovered commitments and changes. Our very downfalls then become springboards which prove to be sources of elevation for us.

A young chemist had been working for some time at developing a new bonding agent, a glue. After years of hardship, the work was complete. He tried it out. It did not stick. What is the use of glue that does not stick? Most people would have called this a failure, a disappointment. Time wasted. Effort spent in vain. The young chemist thought otherwise.

Instead of deciding that his work was a failure, he asked, “What if it is a success? What if I have discovered a solution? The only thing left to do is to find the problem.”

He refused to give up. He kept asking himself, “What is the use of an underachieving adhesive?” Eventually, he found it. It became a huge commercial success. They're little and they stick — but not too hard. That is how the “Post-It” Notes were invented!

This is true concerning every negative experience in life. A missed flight cannot be unmissed ; a harsh word uttered to a loved one cannot be unspoken. But the MEANING of these events can be changed. We can literally travel back in time to redefine the significance of what occurred.

This is the meaning of the words of the Talmud: Sin, when followed by true and genuine repentance, is redefined by the experience of Teshuvah. Because it is the sin that creates a thirst, a sensitivity, and an awareness of meaning that man was not aware of before.

We are never slaves of our past.

We are capable of a better future. But much more than that: We can go back in time and redefine the past! It is the ability to defy the properties of time by editing or rewriting a “wasted,” or worse, “destructive,” piece of our life, thought to be beyond our control and reform.

Still, how can a person really do this? Does it seem to defy the structures of time-space upon which our world is built?

The Rebbe presents an awesome answer. Teshuva means I align my life with G-d. G-d is beyond time, space, and matter. In the past, the present and future are one. When I see myself as an aspect of the Divine, a ray of infinity, I can reach back in the past and rewrite, recode it, as though it a thing of the present or the future!

Albert Einstein taught us that time is relative. Where gravity is all-powerful, space and time are redefined. All the laws of physics break down in Black Holes.

But when we return to the source of all gravity—to the cosmic womb, to the Creator—here time not only slows down, and “1000 years is like a day,” but its limits disappear completely.   

On the Second Passover, there is no need to banish leaven from our homes. All parts of our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly, can be liberated and aligned with the oneness of G-d.

Shabbat Shalom and  A happy second Passover,


Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

Comments on: CAN I FIX MY PAST?

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