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Parsha Behaalotecha


     I was watching one of my favorite shows on television the other day, Judge Judy, when one of those lawyer commercials came on.  Not for malpractice, thank God, or one of those have you been injured, I got these people three hundred gazillion dollars, and I would be honored to get you what you deserve.  No, this one was for a firm specializing in bankruptcy, and they had a great tag line- Life has a reset button.  That got me thinking. 

     In this week’s Parsha, Behaalotecha, one of the things we read is the commandment to observe Passover.  It may be surprising to many that while in the desert, the children of Israel did not observe Passover.  Some commentators say this was because one had to be circumcised to sacrifice the Passover lamb and it was not until the children of Israel crossed over into the promised land that Joshua has all the men circumcised.  They are commanded to offer to God the Pascal sacrifice on the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the first month. The fourteenth day of Nissan. This is still the very day we observe the first Seder of Passover.

     It is at this point in the Parsha that some of the Israelites complain.  It’s not that they are unhappy, but rather, because they were ritually unclean they could not partake in the Passover sacrifice.  Remember, in Judaism being ritually unclean does not mean you did something wrong. You may have come in contact with a dead body during a burial, as the Israelites in our Parsha had, or just delivered a baby- all great and noble causes, yet you would be ritually unclean and therefore unable to partake in the pascal offering to God. 

God grants them another chance.  On the afternoon of the fourteenth of the second month they were allowed to bring the Passover sacrifice and eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The fourteenth of Iyar, Passover Sheini.

     There are times in our lives when, for some reason or another, we cannot achieve our goals.  Sometimes it is because of our failings, but sometimes it is because of things that are just not within our control. That leaves us with two choices- accept defeat and move on or find another way to achieve our goals.  With Passover Sheini, God establishes another way the Israelites could fulfill the commandment of offering the Pascal sacrifice. But this didn’t happen until the Israelites complained and were upset that they could not fulfill this commandment.  Life will invariably get in the way of our goals.  This requires us to actively look for ways to overcome these obstacles.  The lesson of Parsha Behaalotecha is that God understands that sometimes life gets in the way, but if you actively look for alternative ways to succeed, God will be there with you.  Failure is part of life.  Often because of circumstances beyond our control.  Our struggle is to not accept defeat but to continue to look for alternative paths that will lead to success. My hope for us this Shabbat is that we continue to find success in all our endeavors, even if it requires multiple attempts.  Shabbat Shalom.

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