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Pesach Sheini


Before discussing the minhagim that developed after the churban habayis, it would be appropriate to clarify what happened on the fourteenth of Iyar while we still had the Beis HaMikdash, and what will again happen when it will soon be rebuilt, b’ezras Hashem. This is important because over the years, this writer has noticed that there are several misconceptions concerning this topic.

The source of Pesach Sheini is in parshas Baha’aloscha (chap. 9). The Torah relates that in the year following the exodus, the Bnei Yisroel celebrated their first (and only) Pesach during their forty years in the midbar. Moshe Rabbeinu was then approached by a group of people who informed him that they had been ritually impure on Erev Pesach and had thus been unable to offer the korban pesach. They complained, “Why should we be diminished by not offering Hashem’s offering in its appointed time among the Bnei Yisroel?”

Hashem then instructed Moshe concerning the mitzvah of pesach sheini. Anyone who was unable to participate in the offering and the eating of the korban pesach during Nissan was entitled to do so on Pesach Sheini. There are several reasons why one was not able to offer the korban pesach, and they include:

1) Someone who was ritually impure and was unable to purify himself in time.

2) A person who was at least fifteen mil (approximately ten miles or seventeen kilometers) outside of Yerushalayim on the fourteenth of Nissan.

3) One who was prevented by circumstances beyond his control from participating (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach, chap. 5).


There is a popular misconception concerning Pesach Sheini. Many people believe that Pesach Sheini is the day when the second pesach offering was eaten. Perhaps this is because the fourteenth of Iyar is called Pesach Sheini. However, the truth is that this was the day that the korban was slaughtered, while it was only eaten during the following evening, the fifteenth of Iyar. This is the same format as the first korban Pesach, which was slaughtered on the fourteenth of Nissan and eaten on the eve of the fifteenth (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3-4).

Aside from this similarity, many of the halachos of the pesach sheini are the same as the pesach rishon. For example, they are both roasted and there is a mitzvah to eat both with matzah and marror (ibid.). Additionally, it was forbidden to break any bone in either korban, or to leave any meat from the korban uneaten by morning. Also, during the slaughtering and the throwing of the blood of both korbanos on the mizbayach, the levi’im would recite the Hallel (ibid. 10:15).

However, there are several differences between the two korbanos. For example:

1) There is a prohibition against slaughtering or eating the pesach rishon if one owns chometz. With the pesach sheini, on the other hand, one is allowed to own chometz.

2) After eating the pesach rishon, there was a requirement to recite Hallel. This requirement did not apply to the pesach sheini.

3) One of the requirements of the pesach rishon was that each korban had a group of people called a chaburah who were partners in that particular animal. If two or more such chaburos were eating in the same house, it was forbidden to take the meat of one chaburah and eat it with another chaburah. This restriction did not apply to the pesach sheini. One only had to be careful not to take the meat of the korban out of the house in which it was eaten (ibid.)


Although Pesach Sheini is a holiday that is unfortunately not presently relevant to us, as we have not yet merited the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, there are several minhagim and halachos that are applicable even nowadays.

Several halachic authorities mention that even though we are all ritually impure, the day of Pesach Sheini is a day of great kedusha and one should have great simcha on this day. Some even write that one who was blessed with wealth should invite talmidei chachomim to his meal on this day and thereby fulfill the concept of “kol dichfin yeisei veyeichol” – “anyone who is hungry should come and eat,” as he did on Pesach Rishon (Morah BeEtzba [Chida] 8:222; Moaid Lekol Chai [Rav Chaim Falagi] 7:6; Eishel Avrohom [Butchatch] #131).

Some instituted that the parsha of Pesach Sheini along with the relevant halachos from the Gemaros and poskim should be learned on this day. This is based on a pasuk in Mishlei (15:23), “A word spoken in good season, how good it is.” The Gemara expounds this pasuk to mean (Sanhedrin 101a), “Anyone who recites a verse at the appropriate time, brings good fortune to the world.” This concept is not limited to texts appropriate to Pesach Sheini. Rather, it is considered proper to learn the parshiyos and halachos of each holiday during the proper season (Kaf HaChayim 429:6; Arugas Habosem, Siddur Otzar HaTefillos, pg. 509).


As everyone knows, the tefillah recited on most weekdays immediately following shemoneh esrei (or after chazaras hashatz) is referred to either as “tachanun” or “nefilas apayim.” Due to the nature of this powerful and lofty tefillah, there are various days in the Jewish calendar when it is omitted. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 131) provides a list of these days, the date of Pesach Sheini is omitted. The Aruch HaShulchan notes this omission and comments (131:12), “This is a wonder,” which seems to indicate that he maintains tachanun is not recited on that day. There are other poskim as well who contend that tachanun is omitted (Sha’arei Teshuvah 131:19; Daas Torah 131:7). However, there are many communities that do not omit tachanun on this day. This was the practice of the Chazon Ish zt”l.

The reason why some do not recite tachanun is because Pesach Sheini is the day when the korban was brought. When a person brought a korban, that day was considered to be a personal Yom Tov. In the case of Pesach Sheini, which was theoretically brought by a large contingency, it is granted the status of a general Yom Tov for everyone.

On the other hand, many authorities maintain that tachanun is recited on Pesach Sheini. The fact that individuals brought their korban on this date does not affect all the Jews (Pri Megadim 131, Mishbetzos Zahav #15; Orchos Rabbeinu pg. 68, citing the practice of the Chazon Ish).


It must be noted that although concerning most days when tachanun is omitted, it is also not recited at the previous mincha, this is not the case with Pesach Sheini. Even those who do not recite tachanun on the fourteenth of Iyar, do so at mincha on the thirteenth (Sefer Eretz Yisroel 18:1; Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25:18). The reason for this is because concerning a typical day when tachanun is not recited, the entire day has the status of a minor festival. Since the mincha beforehand is in proximity of that minor festival, tachanun is likewise omitted at that point. However, concerning Pesach Sheini, the minor festival only begins on the afternoon of the fourteenth – the time of the slaughtering of the korban, while the morning has no elevated status. Thus it is shacharis on the fourteenth that is in proximity to the minor festival and not the previous mincha.

Aside from Pesach Sheini there are two other occasions where this halacha is applicable: Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur. Although tachanun is omitted on both of these days, it is recited at the previous mincha. This is because the Yom Tov status of these two days only begins in the afternoon.


According to the writings of the Mekubalim, Pesach Sheini and the six days that follow are days of Divine mercy and favor and are referred to as “tar’in pesichin,” Aramaic for “open gates.” This is based on the Zohar (Baha’aloscha, Raiya Mehemna, pg. 152b), which states that these seven days beginning with Pesach Sheini, the “gates” are still open and one still has the opportunity to reach the spiritual heights that were obtainable during Pesach.


An interesting ramification of not reciting tachanun on Pesach Sheini is how it affects the minhag of reciting selichos following Pesach, otherwise known as BeHaB. Since not everyone is familiar with this concept, let us briefly digress.

In the beginning of the months of Cheshvan and Iyar, many communities have a custom to recite selichos on Monday, Thursday and Monday. This is the why these selichos are referred to as BeHaB – which is an acronym for Beis (Monday), Hey (Thursday) and Beis (Monday). The reason why selichos are recited at the beginning of those two months is in order to atone for any sins that were committed due to the excesses of the recently celebrated Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch 492 and Mishnah Berurah ad loc.).

During a year when Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos, as it did in 5768, the second Monday of selichos in Iyar falls out on Pesach Sheini. In this case, many are accustomed to skip selichos altogether on this day, while some recite an abridged version (Luach Eretz Yisroel).


Before discussing the minhag of eating matzah on Pesach Sheini, we first must clarify when there is a mitzvah to eat matzah and when there is not. Concerning the eve of the fifteenth of Nissan, Leil HaSeder, the Torah commands us several mitzvos. The three that are relevant to our discussion are as follows (Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvos, Assin #56 and #158):

1) There is a mitzvah to eat matzah

2) There is a mitzvah to eat of the meat of the korban pesach

3) There is a mitzvah to eat matzah together with the korban pesach. (We will discuss the mitzvah of eating marror shortly.)

This means that even though there is a mitzvah to eat the korban pesach together with matzah, the mitzvos of matzah and eating the korban are independent of each other. Therefore, if one has the meat of the korban, but no matzah, he still must eat the meat. Similarly, if he has matzah, but no korban, he still must eat the matzah. This is why there is still a mitzvah min haTorah to eat matzah on Leil HaSeder, even though we unfortunately do not have a Beis HaMikdash and the capability of offering korbanos.

This is all true concerning the eve of the fifteenth of Nissan. However, with regards to the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar – the evening following the slaughter of the pesach sheini – the halacha is different. Although there is a mitzvah to eat the meat of the pesach sheini, there is no independent mitzvah to eat matzah. The only time a person must eat matzah on that evening is when he has the meat of the korban (ibid. #58).

The Chasam Sofer makes this point in one of his responsa (Orach Chaim #140) and he finds an allusion to this in the pesukim. Concerning the pesach rishon, the Torah writes (Shemos 12:8), “They shall eat the meat on that night – roasted over the fire – and matzos; with bitter herbs shall they eat it.” However, when the Torah commands us concerning pesach sheini, there is a slight change in the wording: “In the second month, on the fourteenth day, in the afternoon, shall he make it; with matzos and bitter herbs shall he eat it” (Bamidbar 9:11).

The Chasam Sofer points out that in the first pasuk we are commanded to eat the meat and the matzos together with the marror. This indicates that the marror is secondary to the meat and the matzah. Indeed, there is only a mitzvah min haTorah to eat marror when there is a korban. Nowadays, we eat marror as per a mitzvah miderabbanan.

Concerning pesach sheini, however, the Torah makes both matzah and the marror secondary to the korban. Therefore, nowadays, unlike Leil HaSeder when there is still a mitzvah to eat matzah, there is no mitzvah to eat matzah on the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar.


Although there is no mitzvah to eat matzah on that evening, many have a custom to eat matzah on the day of Pesach Sheini itself. The obvious difficulty with this minhag is, why should there be such a minhag at all? During the time of the Beis HaMikdash when various individuals found it necessary to offer the korban pesach sheini, they ate matzah on the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar, not on the fourteenth – the day when the pesach sheini was slaughtered. Although several answers have been suggested, we will only discuss one of them.

In order to understand this answer, a short introduction is required. There is a Torah prohibition against adding to mitzvos called bal tosif. One is not allowed to make up new mitzvos, add to existing ones, or to perform mitzvos when there is no mitzvah to do so. For example, one is not allowed to add a fifth compartment to the four compartments in the tefillin shel rosh. Also, one is not permitted to sit in a succah after Succos.

However, in order to transgress the prohibition of bal tosif, one has to have in mind that he wishes to fulfill the mitzvah. Using our previous example, if one keeps his succah standing the entire year and decides to sit in its shade during the warm summer months, he is permitted to do so as long as he does not intend to fulfill the mitzvah of succah thereby.

This concept, that intent to fulfill the mitzvah is required in order to transgress bal tosif, is only true when it is not time to perform the mitzvah. However, at a time when the mitzvah is meant to be performed, one can transgress bal tosif even without intent to perform the mitzvah.

Based on this, some wish to explain the reason why the minhag is to eat matzah specifically on the fourteenth of Iyar and not on the following evening. Since the eve of the fifteenth is theoretically the time to perform the mitzvah of eating matzah together with the korban pesach sheini, there is concern that eating matzah at that time might violate bal tosif, since it is not halachically required. Therefore, the minhag evolved to eat the matzah on the fourteenth (Shu”t Divrei Yisroel, vol. I, #130).

Although the more prevalent minhag is to eat matzah on the fourteenth of Iyar, there were many who also did so on the eve of the fifteenth. Some were even accustomed to make a “mini-seder” and read parts of the haggadah. Of course they omitted the brachos that are only relevant to the first two nights of Pesach. Additionally, they learned the halachos of the korban pesach sheini (Shu”t Kinyan Torah Behalacha, vol. VII, #42; Darchei Chaim Veshalom #631; Moadim Lesimcha, Iyar-Sivan, pg. 100).


As we have mentioned, there is a minhag to eat matzah either on the fourteenth of Iyar, on the eve of the fifteenth, or on both occasions. This custom was especially practiced by those of the Chasidic communities. On the other hand, many communities did not eat matzah at all on Pesach Sheini. Apparently, this is was the custom of the Vilna Gaon (Maaseh Rav #185) and the communities of Lita (Shu”t Rivevos Efrayim, vol. II, #129.239).


Before continuing our discussion concerning Pesach Sheini, we must mention one halacha and one minhag that are relevant to Pesach Rishon.

1) The Shulchan Aruch states (469): “It is forbidden to say about any meat, whether live or slaughtered: ‘this meat is for Pesach.’ This is because it appears as if he sanctified it while it was still alive for the sake of a korban Pesach, and he is thereby eating kodshim (sacrificial meat) outside (the Beis Hamikdash. Rather, he should say: ‘This meat is for Yom Tov.’”

In other words, there is a concern that if one says concerning meat, “this is for Pesach,” it will appear as if that meat is from an actual korban and people will suspect him of transgressing the Torah prohibition of eating kodshim outside the Beis Hamikdash.

2) Similarly, there is a custom of not eating roasted meat on Seder night. The reason for this minhag is that since the korban Pesach was roasted, if one eats this type of meat, it will appear as if he is eating kodshim outside the Beis Hamikdash (ibid. 476 and Magen Avraham ad loc.).

Concerning Pesach Sheini, some authorities contend that one should not eat roasted meat on the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar. Since that was the night when the roasted korban pesach sheini was eaten, if one were to eat this type of meat on that night, people might mistakenly be led to believe that he is eating kodshim outside the Beis Hamikdash (Shu”t Yaffe Lalev, vol. V, #476; Reshash, Pesachim 53a, s.v., makom).

However, many maintain that this stringency is not practiced in any community and that one does not need to concern himself with it. If one wishes to be strict, perhaps there would be basis to forbid eating of a lamb that was roasted whole, as was the case with the korban pesach (Shu”t Rivevos Efrayim, Orach Chaim II #138).

Even those who permit eating roasted meat on the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar, nevertheless hold that one should not say concerning meat that is to be served on Pesach Sheini, “this is for Pesach Sheini.” Just as with Pesach Rishon, such a statement smacks of sanctifying a korban, the same would apply to Pesach Sheini (ibid.).


Unfortunately, we were unable to bring a korban Pesach this year on the fourteenth of Nissan, as we did not merit the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. The question is, assuming that b’ezras Hashem, the third Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt before the fourteenth of Iyar, will we be able to offer the korban Pesach Sheini. Most people would probably respond, “Why not? After all, Pesach Sheini is an opportunity to make up the missed korban Pesach.”

In actually, this question is debated by the Tannaim. In order to understand the issues involved, a brief introduction is required. The halacha is that if individual Jews are tamei on the fourteenth of Nissan, they cannot partake of the korban Pesach and instead, they bring the korban pesach sheini. This is true as long as the number of tamei’im, the ritually impure people, are still the minority. However, once the majority of Jews are impure, everyone – both those who are tahor and those who are tamei – brings the korban Pesach on the fourteenth of Nissan. This is based on the rule, tumah hutrah betzibbur – certain public korbanos can be offered even when those doing so are tamei. In other words, only individuals or the minority of Jews are given the opportunity to offer the Pesach Sheini – not the majority (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 7:1).

The question debated by the Tannaim is whether this rule that the majority of Jews are not allowed to bring the korban pesach sheini applies only where they did not offer it in Nissan because of tumah, but if there was a different reason, i.e., there was no Beis Hamikdash, they could bring it in Iyar. Or perhaps, it does not make a difference why it was not brought it Nissan; the majority of Jews can never bring the korban pesach sheini. According to one opinion, we apply the rule even in this case, and the pesach sheini is not brought, while according to the other opinion, the rule only applies where the korban was not originally brought because of tumah (Yerushalmi Pesachim 9:1; Tosefta Pesachim 8:2; Minchas Chinuch 380:13; Moadim LeSimcha, Iyar-Sivan, pg. 102).

As an interesting aside, it is worthwhile to point out a question posed by Rav Sar Shalom of Belz. In conjunction with the mitzvah of koreich on Seder night, we read the paragraph of Zecher lemikdash k’Hillel: “This is what Hillel did when the Beis Hamikdash stood. He would make a sandwich of matzah and marror in order to fulfill what it says, “with matzos and bitter herbs shall he eat it” (Bamidbar 9:11).

The Belzer Rebbe asked, why did the compiler of the haggadah choose this particular pasuk? This pasuk appears in conjunction with the Pesach Sheini. Would it not have been preferable to use the similar pasuk that appears in the parsha of the Pesach Rishon, “They shall eat the meat on that night – roasted over the fire – and matzos; with bitter herbs shall they eat it” (Shemos 12:8)?

The son of Rav Sar Shalom, Rav Yehoshua of Belz, answered that the paragraph of Zecher lemikdash k’Hillel is actually a tefillah. When reciting it, we are expressing our hope that even though we did not merit to partake of the Pesach Rishon, we should at least have the opportunity to offer the Pesach Sheini and eat it together with matzah and marror (Shu”t Divrei Yisroel, vol. I, #10; Haggadas Kol Aryeh).


As we mentioned earlier, the mitzvah of offering the Pesach Sheini was commanded when some of the Bnei Yisroel came to Moshe and complained why they should be excluded from the Pesach Rishon because of impurity. The question is, why is the mitzvah to offer the Pesach Sheini one full month after Pesach Rishon on the fourteenth of Iyar. If the reason is to allow those who were impure sufficient time to purify themselves, a month is unnecessary. Becoming tahor is only a seven day process. It would have been enough to make Pesach Sheini on Isru Chag.

Rav Yaakov Emden zt”l writes in his Siddur Beis Yaakov (Chodesh Iyar) that the reason behind this was “revealed to me from Heaven.” He explains that when the Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim they took with them dough which was subsequently baked into matzos. Those matzos lasted until the eve of the fifteenth of Iyar – one full month. (The man began to fall on the following morning.) Thus the kedusha of the Korban Pesach and the matzah they were commanded to eat on the eve of yetzias Mitzrayim continued until the evening of the fifteenth of Iyar, thereby connecting the date of Pesach Sheini to Pesach Rishon.

This article originally appeared in the US edition of the Yated Neeman.

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