Q & A: Second Chances

28 Apr

Being that yesterday was Pesach Sheini, I would like to take this opportunity to speak about second chances. In the times of the Beit HaMikdash, if one was unable to give a Korban Pesach, he was given another chance to do so on the 14th of Iyar. Though in the text, this opportunity is mentioned solely to those who were tamei  (by ways of coming in contact with a corpse) or out of the country, technically, anyone who missed Pesach Rishon can qualify for a make up, Pesach Sheini. Now, it’s understandably benevolent to give a second chance to those who missed round one due to unfortunate, beyond-human-control circumstances, but giving some schmo who just didn’t feel like getting off his tuchus to give a korban the same opportunity…doesn’t that seem a bit too benevolent? Judaism lauds the responsible and dedicated man; the man who uses his head not to think up excuses but to cognitively construct ways to work through life’s obstacles. How is it that Hashem is willing to give a second chance to someone who is punishable by Kareit? Why give a person who has chosen to rescind his share in eternal life the privilege of another chance?

Why? Because G-d is the Benevolent One. He is Kindness, Mercy and Forgiveness. He has nothing to gain- not pride, not reassurance, not dignity- by seeing us fail. Being upstanding, responsible people isn’t our gift to Him, after all; breathing and living is His gift to us. Though mitzva of Pesach Sheini is irrelevant today in practice, it is still relevant in essence. G-d wants to be in a relationship with each of us. He wants us to enjoy His world with Him…but as much as He may want that for us, we cannot attain it unless we want it ourselves and go after it. Sometimes there are roadblocks in the way, and other times, we don’t get our act together. We think, we hypothesize, we ponder and before long, opportunities fly by. But G-d is above the time which sweeps opportunity away with each passing minute. He can pluck a time-bound mitzva out of its slot and place it on a seemingly ordinary day, with merits and all still in tact. He can see beyond time, He can see beyond faults, and most of all, He can see potential where no one else can.

My question to you is, how do we incorporate the idea of second chances into dating? Is there such a thing as giving a second chance to someone who:

-sent a text while you were out with them?

– did not call you to confirm/cancel plans (due to busy schedule, illness, lack of sleep, plain ol’ forgetfulness, etc)?

– made a comment about your appearance (this means a lot more to girls than guys)?

– did something insensitive or thoughtless that I haven’t mentioned above (feel free to add your own example)?

What is the difference between being a patient, understanding person and a pushover? Is it our place to give benevolent second chances akin to Pesach Sheini or do we leave such matters in the hands of G-d?

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2 Responses to “Q & A: Second Chances”

  1. Bored Jewish Guy April 29, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    I don’t think giving someone a second chance in the way you talked about would make someone a pushover. I think second chances are good as long as the thing they did bad was not clearly done in an inappropriate or rude way and you saw some good things about that person.

  2. SiBW April 30, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    I don’t think it’s a question as to what items do you think a person shouldn’t get a second chance for but a question of does the person as a whole deserve a second chance. Everyone does things that may appear rude and unkind at times, and in some cases they really are. Granted those items on your list are very inconsiderate, but they shouldn’t demonize a person. Generally, the perspective I have on giving someone a second chance is whether there is enough potential good in the person to overlook their infraction. Like you said above, G-d can see our potential and will make the decision to grant us another chance, hence tshuva, but as mere mortals we do not always have the capability to see another’s potential. An understanding and kind person would be dan lekaf zechus to find that potential and make a conscious decision, because let’s face it, maybe there are people who don’t deserve a second chance. As for pushovers, I think that some people are pushovers in the sense that they choose to overlook other’s obnoxious behaviors in situations where they know they shouldn’t.

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