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Rabbi’s Update 5/17/2024

Dear Friends:

One of the most widely observed Jewish holidays occurs this Tuesday night and Wednesday.

“So if it is so widely observed,” you might be asking yourself, “why don’t I know what it is?”

Pesach Sheni or “Second Passover” occurs on the 14th of Iyar, exactly a month after the day that the Paschal sacrifice was brought during Temple times. The Paschal sacrifice could only be offered in Jerusalem and could not be offered by someone who had recently come into contact with the dead. Therefore,  Pesach Sheni was a makeup opportunity for those who were not able to offer it on the correct date due to being on a journey or having recently buried a loved one.

Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Paschal Sacrifice is no longer offered and thus Pesach Sheni has no real function. (By the way, the Samaritans, a group which broke away from mainstream Judaism about 3,000 years ago, continue to offer the Paschal lamb as can be seen in this video.) Pesach Sheni still appears on the calendar, however. Some people have a custom of eating a small amount of matzah on the day, but it is merely a custom and in no way required. The main way the day is noted is by omitting tachanun, a penitential prayer not suitable for festive occasions, during morning services. Even the least observant Jews do not say tachanun on Pesach Sheni and therefore, I maintain, it is quite widely observed!

But all joking aside, the concept of Pesach Sheni has a deep meaning for us today. As mentioned before, one of the legitimate reasons for taking advantage of the “makeup sacrifice” is having been on a journey at the time of the original Passover. Later commentators have taken the phrase “on a journey” which in Hebrew is b’derech rechoka to imply a much larger lesson. B’derech rechoka means someone who is on a path which is very distant. In contemporary Jewish life, many of us have spent time on a path which is very distant from Torah and mitzvot; but Pesach Sheni shows that God always gives us another chance to make up for what we have missed.

While on the theme of celebrating holidays later than their calendar date, Tuesday was Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. We will mark Yom HaAtzmaut this coming Shabbat morning during services and also at the Kiddush sponsored by Stephanie and David Markowitz, during which our normal Kiddush fare will be supplemented with Israeli favorites. We send our congratulations to Stephanie and David on the upcoming marriage of their daughter Michelle to Justin Sheriff.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. For my drop-in hours, you do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.

There will be no Adult Education class this coming Thursday as I was honored to be invited to the Israel Embassy’s Independence Day reception that evening.

As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment; if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by. 

Additionally, if you know of a Kehilat Shalom congregant or another member of our Jewish community who could use a phone call, please let me know.


Rabbi Charles l. Arian

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