In the portion of Behaalos'cha, the Torah relates
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 "Second Passover."
In the simple context of the verse, there are three elements that may prevent one from bringing the Paschal offering at the appointed time. These are:
- the individual was ritually impure during the time of the offering;
- the person was outside the Courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash;
- 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.
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.
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.
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") 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. 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."
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.
Since G-d says of a haughty individual that "We cannot dwell together,"
the possession of chametz precludes drawing close to G-d, something that is integral to the Paschal offering.
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. 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 spiritual one.
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, 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."
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.
In the Torah portion of Behaalos'cha, the Torah speaks at length about the manna, the heavenly food that sustained the Jewish people during our 40-year sojourn in the desert.
With regard to the manna, the Gemara notes: The verse states that "When the dew would descend upon the camp during the night, the manna would settle upon it." From this verse it would seem that the manna descended within the encampment.
However, the verse also states: "The people went out and collected [the manna]." This would seem to indicate that the people had to go outside the camp in order to get it. Moreover, yet another verse states: "The people would spread out and collect [the manna]." In other words, the people would have to go a long way to receive the manna.
How are we to reconcile these three verses?
The Gemara answers that the verses are speaking of three different categories of Jews: The righteous had the manna descend at the entrance to their tents; the intermediates would go out a short distance and collect it; while the wicked would have to go a greater distance.
The manna is described in the Torah as "bread from heaven." Because of this, there are some Sages who say that the blessing over manna was "who brings forth bread from heaven."
The difference between physical bread and heavenly bread is that regular bread requires a great deal of labor to prepare. In addition, it produces waste products. This was not so with the manna. All the various forms of labor were not necessary; moreover, the manna did not produce any waste.
This very special food was eaten by all the Jews while in the desert, serving as sustenance not only for the righteous and intermediate, but also for the wicked. Even for them it produced no waste. In other words, even when the manna was consumed by the wicked, it retained its essential nature.
And not only was the manna itself not subject to change; it even produced a change for the better in those who ate it - it refined even the wicked. Thus our Sages of blessed memory state that by eating the manna, the Jewish people became worthy of receiving and expounding the Torah.
Thus, the effect of the manna was felt by each of the 600,000 Jews who received the Torah. For each Jew has a unique contribution to make. By eating the manna, even the lowliest was able to reveal and expound on his unique portion of Torah.
And although it is true that even after eating the manna some of the wicked remained wicked, and did not become elevated even to the intermediate category, it nevertheless had a positive effect on them as well.
In light of the above, we can understand our Rabbis' advice that if one does not know which portion to read on Shabbos, he should read the portion of the manna, for that portion was transmitted on Shabbos.
The above statement must be understood. Many portions were said on Shabbos, foremost among them the portion of the Ten Commandments. Why not recite that portion when in doubt as to which one should be read?
According to the above, the reason is entirely understandable, for there is a unique relationship between the manna and Shabbos.
The nature of the manna was such that even as it descended from on high to this world it lost none of its spiritual qualities - so much so, that even when eaten by a wicked person it produced no waste, but rather refined him.
This same quality is found in Shabbos: The sanctity of Shabbos is so great that although it is a mitzvah to delight in physical pleasures on that day, we are nevertheless assured that - unlike the weekdays, when indulging in physical delights coarsens us - this delight will have no deleterious effect on our spirituality. On the contrary, the delight itself becomes a mitzvah.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp. 1035-1038.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 11:9.
- (Back to text) Shmos 16:4.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 11:8.
- (Back to text) Shmos, ibid.
- (Back to text) Ramah MePanu, Maamar Shabsos Hashem II. See also Sefer Chassidim (Hotzo'as MaKitzei Nirdamim) section 1240.
- (Back to text) See Shabbos 74b.
- (Back to text) Yoma 75b.
- (Back to text) Mechilta, Shmos 16:4; Yalkut Shimoni, ibid. See also Likkutei Torah, Eikev (14b).
- (Back to text) Shaar HaGilgulim, Hakdamah 17. See also Hilchos Talmud Torah of the Alter Rebbe 1:4.
- (Back to text) Sefer Ha'Itim in the name of R. Sadya Gaon, Hilchos Berachos VeOneg Shabbos, section 184.
- (Back to text) Shabbos 86b.
- (Back to text) See Zohar, Vol. II, p. 88b.