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The Second Passover and Guarding of the Wheat

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Not everyone knows that there's a Second Passover on the Jewish calendar, especially people who are not really familiar with Judaism. The Second Passover, which is known as Pesach Sheni was observed this year on May 14th.

Pesach Sheni is always observed on the 14th of Iyar, and is held for anyone who was not able to bring the offering in the previous month at the appointed time. This day is seen as a second chance for believers to make an offering.

Jewish beliefs hold that a year following the Exodus, G-d instructed the Israelites to bring the offering of Passover on the fourteenth of Nissan in the afternoon. They were to roast it over fire and eat it that evening with matzah, just as they had done the year before leaving Egypt.

However, there were some people who had become impure ritually through contact with corpses, and could not, as a result, prepare the offering on the day required. Some could also not reach Jerusalem to make the offering. These people approached Aaron and Moses with their plight, to which G-d established the Second Passover.

Typically, the day is celebrated only symbolically. Some followers mark the day by eating matzah. Matzah is unleavened bread that is made from five different grain species, including oats, rye, spelt, barley, and wheat.

If possible shmurah matzah is preferable. Shmurah matzah is simply matzah that is derived from wheat that has been guarded from the time of its harvest up until it is used.

Generally, this means the wheat is harvested before its sheaves have dried out completely. The purpose behind this pre-reaping of the wheat is that once the wheat is completely dried out, it does not draw any water from the ground. If it becomes wet, it is because of preciption—and this can cause fermentation and chametz while the wheat is still growing. During the guarding of the wheat, the wheat kernels are examined closely to be certain that there are not split grains and that no sprouting has begun. The harvest is undertaken under close supervision, being sure that the wheat doesn't draw any dampness before being ground into flour.

For those who are very strict in observing mitzvot, guarding of the wheat before making matza is important. Some authorities on the subject don't believe that guarding the wheat is necessary at all, although more traditional communities may observe this practice.

It is important to note that this "guarded" flour is not the only type of flour that can be used in matzah preparation. Some followers use so-called Passover flour, which is sort of like guarded flour—only the supervision and guarding does not begin until the milling of the wheat commences. Others just use ordinary flour, which is not guarded at all. This is usually the case with most commercially prepared matzah.

Today, the Second Passover is more of a symbolic holiday than anything else. It is a way of remembering that it is never too late in life to return to G-d, even if believers have gone astray from G-d's true path and have been living a life of defilement, he welcomes them back into the fold and gives a second chance for redemption. 

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