In this week’s portion is the ‘Second Passover’. It is an opportunity for anyone who was unable to bring the Paschal Lamb offering on Passover to bring it a month later instead. And I believe the message is one of second chances. It’s easy to fail, often through no fault of our own, and become discouraged. And perhaps even give up. In Judaism, if you missed out on bringing an offering to God first time around, there’s always a chance to try again.
I love the idea of second chances because I believe that we all need them. And we all need to believe in them. Both for ourselves and others. The Bible tells us that, ‘a righteous person falls seven times and gets up. An evil person falls but once’. And so, yes, I don’t just believe in second chances. I believe in third, fourth and fifth chances also. There is never a place a person can sink to from which they cannot rise to great heights. There is never a person who is beyond hope. There is never a time in life when a person cannot simply reboot and start again. Second chances are on the human radar until our dying day. My all-time second favourite novel, Les Miserables, is about second chances. Well worth the thousand pages.
All too often, I see the results of people not understanding this. Instead, people make mistakes, identify with those mistakes, define themselves by those mistakes – and create self-fulfilling prophecies as a result. A person drinks too much and sees himself as an alcoholic. And there is no second chance for alcoholics – ‘once an alcoholic always an alcoholic’. A person has an affair – and becomes an ‘adulterer’. No second chance. A person fails in a business and is a failure. Or, perhaps worst of all, a person becomes disillusioned with life and believes it will always be that way.
One of the great things about human beings (and there are many to choose from) is, to quote Scarlett O’Hara, ‘tomorrow is [always] another day’. Our past does not in any way dictate our present. And certainly not our future. We are flexible. We are growing beings. We get to be the person we want to be right here and right now. The prisons of our own minds are built with illusory walls. If we could but see.
And so…..you messed up, you didn’t do the right thing; you were irresponsible; you were negligent; you lied; your ego got the better of you; you got angry……Welcome to the club. And, for me, all of that was just yesterday 😊! Second chances are our heritage, our birth-right, a gift from a loving God. There is no reason to ever give up on ourselves or on anyone else. Because tomorrow is another day – nothing to do with today. And the day after will be the same. For as long as we live.
Parsha in a Nutshell
This week’s portion talks about the mystical powers of the Ark to disperse and destroy the enemies of the Jewish people. The Talmud tells us that this Ark was hidden by King Josiah before the Babylonian exile and has never been seen since. The myriad caves and tunnels under the Dome of the Rock would be the place to find it.
The rest of the portion is a lot of complaining – the Jewish people complain about the manna, about the lack of meat, about lack of water and when they have nothing to complain about – they complain about nothing in particular. Yes, Jews complaining is not a new phenomenon, I’m afraid.