Second chance what's your comeback story

The second chance

There have been many resignations, second chances and comebacks since the beginning of history. Though their expulsion from the Garden of Eden was anything but a resignation, Adam and Eve got the first second chance of humanity. They also had to use this if they wanted to continue their existence, even if it was in the sweat of their brow in a completely different environment. It can hardly be celebrated as a comeback. According to Maimonides, this would only be the case if the same conditions were repeated and the temptation to perish was resisted (Mishneh Torah, Teshuwa 2,1).

A comeback in the sense of Maimonides is not a transformation of the external, but primarily of the internal conditions. The external conditions are less dynamic. The second chance looks different. Rather, a pattern emerges: the person or those missing somehow go somewhere else and thus within themselves, before they can move forward after being purified.

Moses The list is long, very long. For example, Moses went into the wilderness when he noticed that there were witnesses who had seen him kill a slave overseer. Actually he hoped to have remained anonymous. His grandiose comeback begins in the desert at a burning bush, which gave him the succinct information: “Ehje! I will be who I am "(2 Book of Moses 3:14). From this ominous source comes the second chance, as it did before with Adam and Eve. With Moses, it's enough to make a comeback, because he returns to the scene of the crime, but refined and strengthened in every way. He then not only saves a Jew who is harassed, but all of them at the same time: Mission accomplished. Not without help from above, of course, but that doesn't matter in this context.

In fact, Moses was so blessed in his zeal for justice that he got several second chances. Just think of his exclamation: “Well, that you forgive their sins! But if not, erase me from your book! ”(2. Book of Moses 32:32), when he overzealously asked for forgiveness and thus for a second chance for the people with God after the sin with the golden calf. It was not deleted from the book - but from a section from it (Tezawe). His return then extends to the last section; a comeback to the end.

Pesach theni Moses gives others a second chance, even less well-known ones. So he is also involved in the construction of a date that stands for the second chance in the Jewish calendar to this day, even if it is neglected: Passover Sheni. When the first Passover sacrifice was to be offered in the desert, the members of the first Chewra Kadisha complained to Moses that they were not allowed to be present at the Passover offering (4th Book of Moses 9: 7). After all, they sometimes touched the bones of Joseph and thus contaminated themselves with death. By force they were prevented from performing the mitzvah, but argued against their status as anussim (forced to be incapable of a mitzvah). They therefore asked Moses to intervene with God in order to have a second chance to perform the mitzvah.

Moses did so and gave them a first-class second chance: the divine judgment was cashed in, and exactly one month later they were allowed to make a Passover offering. In the divine revision it was said: Anyone who has been touched by death "or is on a long journey" (3rd Book of Moses 9:10) is allowed to have a second chance. Our sages have also recognized grief and separation in it. Anyone who is prevented from performing a duty by such circumstances deserves a second chance.

Passover Sheni (14th Iyar) has been the memory of this second chance ever since. In the Jewish calendar there is no women's, mother's or father's day, but a »second chance day«. Passover Sheni is not a feast day, but a feast day with special significance in the calendar; even if little paid attention to. Second chances are just not always obvious.

Josef It is no coincidence that this day came about in connection with Joseph. Josef was the master of the comeback par excellence. The name "Josef" already indicates "something additional". His parents already had a second chance to live out their great love after Josef's father, Jakob, did not get the right one. In prison, Josef took a chance to make a comeback; from dungeon to viceroy! Not only did he get second chances, he took them too. And like Moses once did, he also forgave some, of course to his brothers. They took their second chance, and the brothers finally found peace with one another.

Esther And now, shortly before Purim, we must of course not forget our heroic Queen Esther. She uses a second chance, which was actually intended for her predecessor Waschti. As you know, Waschti was removed from office, and so was her head. The second chance comes from the king, and by virtue of his office he decides who will use it. For this reason alone, Queen Esther is very careful in dealing with her office.

As we know, her brilliant comeback was more of a coming-out, having previously kept her true identity hidden. There, in secret, she was like Moses in the desert, even if it was a harem. With a grandiose appearance, she makes it from this depth to truly regal height.

David Less royal (more embarrassing) was King David's second chance (II Samuel 11-12). To get to the beautiful Batschewa, he sends her husband Uriah on a suicide mission. When confronted by the prophet Nathan, he confesses to be guilty. Until then, the king got deeper and deeper into misfortune, following the maxim: when it comes to self-deception, we are all geniuses. It was his merit for not having admitted the truth bit by bit, but everything immediately. His comeback as king is embodied by his son Schlomo, who emerged from his relationship with Batschewa.

Rabban Gamliel The list of resignations, second chances and comebacks in Tenach is still long and continues in the Talmud. No less a person than Rabban Gamliel was persuaded to resign from the office of chairman of Jawne after he repeatedly snubbed the old, wise and well-respected Rabbi Yehoshua. This caused such a stir among his colleagues that they demanded Rabban Gamliel's resignation and appointed the young scholar Rabbi Elasar ben Azarja as his successor (imagine a pope being deposed by the cardinals!). Rabban Gamliel then apologized to the venerable Rabbi Yehoshua (imagine a Pope apologizing!). Thereupon he was reinstated in his office, which from then on he shared with Elasar ben Azariah (Brachot 28a).

Exception Pretty much everyone who was absent was given a second chance in the Torah and Talmud. As is well known, a rule is only confirmed by an exception. Nadaw and Awihu, Aron's two sons, who abused their priestly office, must serve as an exception to this rule: Whoever plays with fire in office, and with someone else's fire, does not get a second chance (3rd Book of Moses 10, 1-2). They disappear on the spot. It is similar to Korach, the evil populist (4th Book of Moses 16). He forfeits any chance of a second chance because such populists simply don't deserve a second chance. OK then. Basta.

Sometimes it just takes a fortunate circumstance, also called a second chance, to return cleansed. A Hasidic story tells of a Ganeff (robber) who used to commit his nightly burglaries through the chimney of his sleeping neighbors. During one of his raids, he hit the rabbi's chimney, of all places. When he tumbled down in a cloud of dust in his study, the rabbi was, as is so often the case at night, naturally studying and thus still awake. Caught red-handed, the Ganeff asked: "How do men arois crawl fun dannet?" (Where do you get out of here?). "The best way is through the door," answered the wise rabbi and added when the Ganeff was on the way to the door: "Koydem wipe you up dus punem unt di klayder" (wipe off your face and clothes beforehand).

The Ganeff accepted the Ajtzeh (council). When he was standing neatly in front of the exit, the rabbi remarked: “Itzt see ois wi a Mentsch; know go oif di gass ’" (now you look tidy and can step out onto the street). That this was the second chance for a better life and at the same time a comeback for the Ganeff as a good citizen was clear when he stepped outside the door into the street: There he was met by curious neighbors who were woken up by the noise and feared bad things received. They were soon calmed down. As clean as he was, the Ganeff was supposed to have studied with the rabbi at night. From then on he had to return to the rabbi every night to study in order to keep up this appearance.

Prerequisites There are a few prerequisites for a second chance. The person who has been purified must show that he is not only externally purified. And the circumstances must be favorable. When the environment is ready, there can be a second chance. The challenge applies to the returnees as well as those around them, and can (but need not) lead to a comeback or even a happy ending. Incidentally, in Hasidic history the Ganeff became a Talmid Chacham, a scholar - whether of his own free will or not. Sometimes you just don't have anything kayn brayra (no other choice).

As I said, Maimonides also dealt with this and claimed that one would have another choice: namely to continue to sin (Mishneh Torah, Teshuwa 2,1). But if you choose purification in spite of the same circumstances, you have really found your way back and are a Ba’al Teshuwa (literally: Lord of the answer, conversion, return; freely at the request of those from and to Guttenberg: Lord of the comeback).

The author is a rabbi of the Budge Foundation in Frankfurt / Main.