It's never too late to get closer to G‑d

The root of this unusual custom is in this week's parsha, Bahalotcha. The story begins exactly one year after the Exodus from Egypt. The Children of Israel celebrated the first anniversary of their redemption from slavery with much joy. In Numbers 9:5, it relates, "They made the Pesach offering in the first month on the 14th day of the month, in the afternoon, in the Wilderness of Sinai according to everything that G‑d commanded Moses …" 

The highlight of their Passover feast would be eating the roasted lamb from their Passover offering, but in order to participate, one had to be tahor "pure." Anyone who came in contact with a dead body, by carrying a coffin, etc. was rendered impure and, therefore, was unable to offer the Passover sacrifice. 

At that time, a group of people were indeed rendered impure. That's because when the Jewish people left Egypt, they did not forget the request that was made by Joseph on his deathbed, "When G‑d will redeem you, then you must bring my bones out of here" (Genesis, 50:25). 

These dedicated men were appointed to carry and tend to the coffin of Joseph all through the long journey in the desert. They now approached Moses, complaining, "Just because we are rendered impure, should we miss out on offering the Passover sacrifice?" 

Moses turned to G‑d for direction and received a surprising response. G‑d said that anyone that was not pure in time for the regular Passover holiday will get a second chance one month later. On this "Second Passover," everyone who missed out will have the opportunity to offer the Passover sacrifice. 

This, indeed, happened that year in the desert, as well as for many generations to come. Today, we commemorate the Second Passover (Pesach Sheini) by eating matzah exactly one month after Passover. 

The courage of these dedicated men who carried Joseph's coffin, actually gave us an extra "holiday." But more than that, they gave us an attitude. When it comes to doing a mitzvah; when it comes to spiritual growth, there is always a second chance. No matter how old you are or how educated you are, to grow as a Jew and to get closer to G‑d, it's never too late.