Last week's Torah portion included the unusual second Passover. We are told that as Passover was being observed, some men approached Moses and asked for an opportunity to observe the holiday rituals. Those men were ritually impure and were disqualified from bringing the paschal lamb. Moses asked God what to do and God said that the 14th day of the next month, and for all time, would be Pesach Sheini (2nd Passover).
What an amazing idea! God recognizes that mistakes can happen - that we might not be spiritually ready at the right time, or that life got in the way - and we have a second chance. Judaism is about striving for perfection and that is the key. Judaism recognizes that we aren't perfect and we therefore have many opportunities, through the 613 commandments, to begin to achieve a higher sense of moral and spiritual purpose. It's a long road and it's good to know that second chances are built in.
That message is tragically more powerful after the horrific event at the U.S. Holocaust Museum last week. The Museum is not only meant to memorialize the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler, but also to educate the 1.7 million visitors who pass through its doors every year. By showing the horrors of prejudice it hopes to eradicate discrimination. Yet at its front doors last week and 88 year old man - a so-called White supremacist - tried to deny that message. Fortunately he was stopped, but not until he killed a guard.
Despite the greatest act of Man's inhumanity to Man - the Shoah - mankind still has far to go. Bigotry still exists in many forms throughout the world. Yet we take comfort in knowing that God is patient. He gave us a second chance 3,000 years ago and God is still waiting for us to succeed. May we see that day soon.