The development of Pesach Sheini is described in Chumash
Bamidbor, which is a unique Chumash in that it is
actually comprised of three separate Chumoshim, each
emphasizing a separate hidden and important message.
According to Chazal there are, altogether, seven
"Chumoshim," seven books of the Torah, as is stated,
"Chochmos bonsoh beisoh, chotzvoh amudeho shiv'oh"
The three Chumoshim within Chumash Bamidbar are
as follows: First there is the description of the formation
of Am Yisroel's four-section camp, each one with its
individual degel in the Desert, that resembled an
eagle flying over the clouds, with the Shechina in the
center represented by the Mishkon and the Leviim in
the midst. This is followed by the account of Pesach Sheini
and the subsequent departure of Bnei Yisroel from "Har
Hashem" which, Rashi explains, was a departure from their
closeness to Hashem.
The next Chumash within sefer Bamidbar is
comprised of only two pesukim that begin with,
"Vayehi binso'a ho'Oron vayomer Moshe: Kumoh Hashem . . .
" -- [Whenever Am Yisroel began to journey] the Oron
would travel forth and Moshe Rabbenu would declare, "Arise
Hashem and scatter our enemies from before us. And when they
encamped, once again, then Moshe Rabbenu proclaimed,
"Shuvoh Hashem rivevos alfei Yisroel." Rashi explains
that this was inserted to divide between one pur'onus
(transgression) and another.
The third Chumash deals with the complaints of the
Jews (mis'onenim), their demand for meat, onion and
garlic. This was an expression of yearning for gashmiyus,
purely physical pursuits. The Jews were provided with
Manna every day, which possessed every beauty and
every taste possible. It was the color of glittering
Following the complaint, Moshe Rabbenu begged to resign,
saying, "Lomoh harei'oso le'avdecho" -- I can't take
it, I don't have meat! Hashem did not disagree with Moshe,
but advised him to gather seventy elders, who would not
possess the same leadership as Moshe, but would comprise the
new concept of the Sanhedrin. The Jews were punished
for their complaint, and every posuk thereafter
relates the chain of sins of the Jewish people, as in
parshas Shelach (the Meraglim), parshas Korach
(the rebellion against Moshe Rabbenu), parshas Chukas
(when Moshe Rabbenu hit the stone), parshas Bolok
(intermarriage) -- until Pinchos saves Am Yisroel.
The stark contrast from the first Chumash of
Bamidbar, which presents an elevating image of the
entire nation carried on eagle's wings, provided with their
every need, to the subsequent description of the continuous
transgressions and their repercussions, is heightened by the
story of Pesach Sheini.
Hashem commanded the Jews to bring the Pesach sacrifice on
the Fourteenth of Nisan. There were some Jews who were
tomei at this specific time but they realized the
unparalleled opportunity this sacrifice offered and voiced
their desire to Moshe and Aharon to participate as well,
saying, "Lomoh nigora, Why should we be left out?"
Their request emanated from a real appreciation of the value
of an individual mitzva, because in reality each and every
mitzva completes our spiritual makeup. If we lack the
fulfillment of even a single commandment, we are left
incomplete eternally. Of course, there may be a legitimate
heter absolving us of our responsibilities, but the
absence of that mitzvah will nonetheless leave a blemish
Moshe Rabbenu turned to Hashem for a solution and Hashem made
Pesach Sheini so they could bring the korbon the
following month on the fourteenth of Iyar. Rashi marvels at
Moshe's status, "Ashrei yelud ishoh, Fortunate is the
human being that can speak freely at all times with the
Shechina." Today, if one was not able to hear the
shofar on Rosh Hashanah, his rabbi can't make a
special allowance for him, because we have only talmidei
chachomim who must abide by what is written. But when one
can turn directly to the Source, well, Hashem can do anything
and make allowances as He deems fit.
A contrast was when the Jews desired meat, representing base,
physical pursuits. The opposite of meat is milk. Meat is red,
signifying the blood. Milk too, is actually blood, but it is
purified. Milk is a more spiritual nourishment being
miraculously manufactured to provide an entire nutritious
meal designed specifically for the most delicate digestion.
Chazal say that mother's milk has every taste condensed in
it. It is more spiritual, therefore it is unlimited in its
taste. However, meat tastes like the animal. Being more
physical, it has a limited taste.
When Moshe Rabbenu was governing, it was like a child nursing
milk -- straight from Hashem. When the Jews needed food, it
came straight from Hashem and included every color and every
taste. Eating mann was living directly from Hashem.
When one sits at Hashem's table and one is lacking something,
he just asks for it. Hashem never says, "No. Too bad." That
was what Pesach Sheini was all about.
However, the asafsuf, or eirev rav, said, "It's
beautiful, but it's too much for us to live in such proximity
to Hashem." They rationalized that it is like one who is
invited to the Chasam Sofer's house and is constantly in his
presence. He can never relax. How can one sit in an easy
chair with a newspaper in such a setting? "We want to have a
good pizza once in a while! We can't eat the Mann all
the time and be holy, because then we have to live with
Hashem all the time."
They wanted a more physically mundane lifestyle. Mann,
they claimed, is bread for angels. It was totally absorbed in
the body without causing any waste. And when you're in
Hashem's presence, you have to watch your words. One false
word of loshon hora will bring instant retribution.
It's too hard.
Eldad and Meidad, who prophesied, "Moshe will die and
Yehoshua will take us into the Land," understood the root of
their discontent. They saw prophetically that the Jews
rejected Moshe because they desired a more base, physical
lifestyle with meat instead of Mann. The greatness of
the Jews that could be realized through the leadership of
Moshe Rabbeinu would not take place, and they meant to
admonish the Jews that since they rejected Moshe Rabbenu and
the proximity to Hashem that he represented, Moshe would pass
away and not take the Jews into Eretz Yisroel.
Cheit Hameraglim had the same root: rejection of a
lofty life with utter dependency on and closeness to Hashem.
The meraglim complained about giants in the Land of
Canaan. But what threat do giants really pose for someone who
has witnessed the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea?
For Hashem to remove a nation of giants is simple. But the
root was that the Jews rejected this close relationship and
wanted to live a more natural lifestyle. Therefore, they were
afraid of the giants -- on their own, under natural laws,
they could not cope with them.
Korach also rebelled against Moshe Rabbenu's leadership, and
in parshas Bolok we see the degeneration that results
from this rejection: immorality, intermarriage, and finally
the terrible plague which nearly destroyed the entire Jewish
We continue this battle in our times as well, with the same
secular refusal to succumb to Hashem's supreme rule, and
forcefully "taking their fortune into their own hands"
instead of begging Hashem to send Moshiach and living on His
terms in close proximity as befitting the elite Jewish
After nearly two thousand years of living a natural life not
in close proximity to Hashem, we have hopefully learned by
now that it's not attractive. Never again will we be
persuaded by the eirev rav and other shallow people to
depart from the Shechinoh, because in its stead there
is only oceans of bloodshed, heartache, depression and
Pesach Sheini is the light of the heights that we will reach
when Moshiach comes and we will once again be able to hear
Hashem's words daily, advising us on everything, and we will
have Moshe Rabbenu as our leader, and nurse, as it were,
directly from Hashem.
This article is based on a lecture by HaRav Shimshon