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Highlight of the Week - PESACH SHENI
Never too late for a second chance
The Torah relates that many people came to Moshe complaining that, since they were ritually impure, they were unable to bring the Pesach sacrifice.
G-d told Moshe that those who were unable to do so, could bring the offering one month later, on the 14th of Iyar, Wednesday, May 10th.
It is customary to eat matzoh on this day as a reminder of that special event. While we eat the matzoh, we should reflect on this wondrous holiday that G-d has granted us. It is never too late to embark on a new life and to correct missed opportunities of the past. Truly, a great gift!
This Sunday, May 14, Lag B’Omer is a day of celebration for many reasons: 1) In the days of the great luminary, Rabbi Akiva, a catastrophic plague afflicted 24,000 of his disciples, but on Lag B’Omer, this tragedy came to a halt. 2) Lag B’Omer is the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the greatest of all Kabbalistic books, “The Zohar”, passed away. Prior to his demise, he revealed some of the most important secrets of The Zohar to his students. Thus, a time of mourning was turned into a day of rejoicing. Weddings are celebrated; one can take a haircut, and go on outings. Bonfires are built, and in the land of Israel, thousands of people gather in the city of Meron where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is buried, to offer prayers. It is a custom to bring three year old boys to Meron on Lag B’omer for their first haircut, and thus induct them into Torah study.
In the middle of this week’s parsha, Emor, we find the laws regarding our festivals (Leviticus, 23). Strangely enough, the Torah interjects into this sequence a mitzva that, at first glance seems to be unrelated to the holidays -- the mitzva of peah, which means that when we harvested our fields, we were enjoined to leave the corners of our fields for the poor to enable them to glean the leavings. The corners of the fields did not belong to the owners, but to the poor. Thus, they were protected from the humiliation of having to beg.There is a profound lesson to be absorbed here. Our holidays take on meaning; our celebrations become joyous, when we share our bounty with those who are less fortunate. Moreover, even as our forefathers understood that the corner of their fields belong to the poor, so we must appreciate that G-d endowed us with blessings so that we might share them with others.
The sage, Rabbi Avdimi, offers yet another insight as to why the mitzva of peah is to be found in the portion that deals with the observance of our festivals. “It comes to teach us,” he says, “that when we share our blessings with the poor, in the heavens above it is considered as if we would have built the Temple and brought offerings therein.” In this very difficult time for our people, as we witness anti-Semitism exploding throughout the world, and our brethren in Israel face the menace of terrorism daily, let us share and give of ourselves through prayer, tzedukah, and renewed commitment.