Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? . . .
Yeshua said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
As they were leaving Egypt, God gave Israel commands concerning their lives in their Land. One of them was to celebrate the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:19). If this command was already given in Exodus and in Leviticus 23, why is it repeated in Numbers (Numbers 9:1–5)?
The distance from Mt. Horeb to the borders of Israel is not great and at the times of Numbers, the children of Israel should already have been in the Land. The problem was that they were delayed at least three months by the golden calf incident. The Torah allows second chances. We may orchestrate the most elaborate fail-safe plan against sin, but life has a habit of throwing curve balls at us. In spite of our loftier dreams and ideals, at the end of the day, we have to deal with the reality on the ground, and it seems that Hashem is fully aware of it.
In Numbers 9 we also have the case of a family who would miss the precious Passover celebration because of a death. In this case, Hashem again gives them the chance to celebrate Passover on the following month. This case foreshadowed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The two men cared for the Master’s body on the night of Passover 2,000 years ago so being ritually contaminated, they could not eat of the Passover lamb that year. It was a traditional belief with the early Jerusalem believers that the two men reclined at the Passover table on the second month of the year for what is called: Pesach Sheni: The Second Passover.
It takes maturity and godliness to not be frustrated at the way things are compared to the way they should be. I know someone who when things do not work out the way he has dreamed he says, “It is what it is.” I think sometimes that Hashem looks at us with empathy and says, “It is what it is,” and then, he tries to give us a second chance. He tells us that we can celebrate the Passover in the desert instead of in the Land, or that we can celebrate it on the second month if reality kept us from doing it on the first. The whole idea of redemption and atonement is in fact about second chances.
Again we stand in awe at the perfect Almighty God, creator of the universe, as he seems to be able to bend to the bare facts of our lives on earth. He proposes and offers us the great ideals of his Torah with the full knowledge of our imperfectness towards it and seems to say, "It is what it is."
How much more then should we be able to bear with each other’s imperfection? How much patience and forgiveness and bending ability the Father has for each one of us should be the standard of ours towards others? The novice forgets about his own imperfections and looks at others condescendingly wondering how come they don’t toe the line better. The seasoned mature leader and disciple of the Master knows life, that “It is what it is,” and deals with it not according to his lofty dreams but according to the realities on the ground.
May we learn from Hashem, the great Father who loves us so much that he gave us a second chance in his Messiah. May we also have the maturity to accord that second chance to those we meet in this life's journey.
P. Gabriel Lumbroso