In the middle of this week’s parsha we find the story of Pesach Sheni. I think that in order to understand the message of Pesach Sheni we need to understand the mindset of the people at the time.
The excitement of Clal Yisrael must have been at amazing levels. They have been in the desert for a year and they have now completed the building of the mishkan and are traveling in a meticulous order, with each and every individual in their position surrounding the mishakan. The travel plans are clear, and in a very sort time they will be entering Eretz Yisrael.
(We, of course, have read the end of this week’s parsha and next week’s and we know that the “very short journey” will take forty years and practically not a single one of them will enter the land, including Moshe himself).
The first anniversary of the exodus arrives and they prepare to bring the Korban Pesach. They are reliving that fateful night in Egypt. (Generations later we attempt to recreate certain elements of the experience at our seder, but these people were to sit around the table and talk about yitziat mitzrayim in the first person!!)
It is at this point that a small group of people realizes that they are disqualified from participating in the korban because they are tamei. The simple reading of the pesukim does not give any indication as to who these people are or why they are tamei. The Sifra tries to infer from their words as to who they were and presents three different opinions:
1. They were those who were carrying the bones of Yosef that were being taken to be buried in Eretz Yisrael.
2. They were Mishael and Eltzafan who removed the bodies of Nadav and Avihu.
3. They were people who happened upon a “met mitzvah” an individual with no one to bury them and they had to become tamei to do so.
All three ideas present people who not only happened to be tamei but also were actually required to become tamei to fulfill one of these important missions. Their frustration must have been enormous.
In such situations we have different courses of action that we might take. One possibility would be to give up. We must understand that there are times in which we will be able to participate and there are times that we will not be able to. We must come to accept this and overcome our frustration. This would be even easier in the scenarios described above where the disqualification stems from a higher priority mission that we were involved in.
Another option would be to push to find a solution. This is the course that they people took. There is no reason to believe that there is a solution to the problem. As they approach Moshe Rabenu they have no idea that there are any options available. They are not arriving knowing that if they just “nudge” and “kvetch” enough they will get what they want. They approach Moshe with a clear and true cry of “Why should we loose out”?
I think that it is the very cry that they raised that already provided the answer. A solution must be found!! Hakadosh Baruch Hu is presented with the burning desire to participate in the Korban Pesach and He is the one that must provide the solution.
Chazal tell us that the parsha was given in honor of these people because “migalglim zchut al yedei zakai”.
The obvious parallel to this situation is the story of Bnot Tzalfchad. There, as well, the simple law seemed to be cut and dry, they were not to inherit the land. These five women approached Moshe Rabenu with the clear and determined claim that they wanted a part of Eretz Yisrael.
It is interesting to note the laguage used in both places in the same (note the same use of the word “negara” in both places Bamidbar 9:7 and Bamidbar 27:4.)
The message is determination. If we are determined to be part of the Kedusha, the Korbanot and Eretz Yisrael then a solution will be found. If we accept the limitations that seem to exist and say “oh well-that Halacha is for a different time” then indeed it will only be for a different time. If we are unwilling to accept the situation as it is and we approach Hakadosh Baruch Hu with the true and pure desire to be part of Avodat Hashem, He will provide the solution.