Positive Mitzvah Fifty-Seven

Slaughtering the Pesach Sheni-offering

Requires Beit HaMikdash

BaMidbar 9:11 In the second month, on the 14th day in the afternoon he shall perform it.  Together with matzot and bitter herbs they shall eat it.

We are commanded that whoever has been unable to offer the first Pesach-offering must slaughter the second Pesach-offering. 

The Gemara says, "Accordingly, if one willfully neglects both Pesach-offerings, willfully fails to bring both the first Pesach-offering and the second Pesach-offering, all agree that he is culpable.  If he neglects both unintentionally, all agree that he is not culpable.  If he neglects the first willfully and the second unintentionally, he is culpable according to Rabbi and R. Nathan, not culpable according to R. Hananiah ben Akabya.  Likewise, if his failure is willful in the case of the first, but he brings the offering on the second, he is culpable according to Rabbi, because in his opinion the second Pesach is not merely complementary to the first, and the law in all these cases follows Rabbi's view.

This Mitzvah is not binding upon women, for it is explained in Tractate Pesachim that for women the second Pesach-offering is optional. (Pesachim 91a)

The second Pesach was essentially the festival of an individual or of a group of individuals, but in no circumstances that of all Yisrael.  For according to Oral Torah, "if the congregation or the greater part of it has contracted uncleanness, the first Pesach is kept in uncleanness" (Pesachim 79a).  Thus though an individual could postpone his observance of the Pesach for an entire month, Yisrael as a people could not do so.

Observance of the second Pesach devolved upon such as had been on 'a journey afar off' from Yerushalayim during the first Pesach, and upon such as had failed to bring the first Pesach-offering unintentionally, through constraint or even willfulness.