Photo Credit: Jewish Press

We all know the story behind Pesach Sheni (which is coming up on Monday): As the first anniversary of the Exodus drew near, G-d commanded the Jewish people to bring a Paschal offering on the 14th of Nissan and eat it in the evening with matzah and maror just as they had done before they left Egypt.

The Torah relates that some individuals were spiritually unclean (tamei) and couldn’t offer the sacrifice on that day. They came to Moshe Rabbeinu and exclaimed, “Lamah nigara – Why should our lot be diminished? Everyone else is sacrificing the korban Pesach!”

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The Talmud (Sukkah 25a) explains that these people were carrying the coffin of Yosef HaTzaddik or had dealt with a necessary burial and thus were spiritually unclean.

But why did they get so excited and make such a big deal about their situation? They were tamei, and the law is that one can’t bring a korban Pesach in this state. With G-d’s help, they would have a chance to bring it in future years!

G-d knew they were tamei, as did Moshe Rabbeinu, and yet neither G-d nor Moshe gave them alternative instructions. Obviously, then, they were exempt from bringing the sacrifice. Besides, we should only have simchos, but it’s normal for people to die all the time, including in the week before Pesach. That means, people in the chevra kadisha will always be tamei when it’s time to offer the korban Pesach. It’s inevitable and perfectly normal, so why did these Jews make such a big deal about being exempt from this mitzvah?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe answered that their complaint didn’t stem from a rational calculation; rather, it was an emotional outburst. Logically, they knew that people in their situation are exempt. But as they witnessed all the other Jews performing such a great mitzvah, it deeply bothered them that they couldn’t join them.

What was the result of their complaint? The Jewish people gained an entirely new halacha. Henceforward, anyone who was spiritually unclean during the first Pesach would have a chance to bring the offering a month later, on a new date established by Hashem: Pesach Sheni!

The halacha wasn’t just for these specific individuals; rather it was for tamei individuals in all future generations as well. Moreover, they ended up gaining much more than they asked for. According to halacha, even if an individual deliberately doesn’t bring the offering during the first Pesach, he can bring it on Pesach Sheni.

This small group was troubled by one thing – “The Jewish community is serving Hashem and how can we not be part of it!” – and their emotionally-charged complaint resulted in a gain for themselves and for all future generations.

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at Lubavitchyouth@gmail.com.