Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
A son who is not himself a kohen or a Levi, firstborn to a Jewish mother who is not the daughter of a kohen or a Levi, has the status of a bechor and must be redeemed through a ceremony known as pidyon ha’ben.
The performance of the pidyon ha’ben ceremony, which should take place on the 31st day following the date of the birth of the child, is primarily the responsibility of the father. It is one of the caretaking duties a father owes his son, in addition to the responsibility to see to it that he is circumcised, to assist him in finding a spouse, and to teach him Torah and a profession. If the father has been derelict in this duty, it devolves upon the son to redeem himself as soon as he is old enough to do so.
If one considers that prior to the institution of the kehunah, the priesthood, the firstborn was charged with the responsibility of offering up sacrifices to God on the people’s behalf, it is understood that the kehunah should be compensated for redeeming the child from the bechor status and depleting, as it were, the ranks of the kehunah.
Accordingly, the pidyon ha’ben ceremony involves paying the kohen 5 shekalim (or sela’im) or chattels of equivalent value in exchange for the redemption.
The pidyon ha’ben ceremony is conducted between the father and the kohen either with or without the presence of the child to be redeemed.
After the father declares to the kohen that he has a firstborn son that requires redemption in accordance with the laws of the Torah, the kohen then asks the father the following question. “What would you prefer to give me your firstborn or to redeem him for 5 sela’im as permitted by the Torah?”
The father responds, of course, that he would prefer to redeem the child. Still holding the money in his hand, the father then articulates to himself that he is now performing the requirement of pidyon ha’ben and he then recites two blessings.
First, he recites the blessing of pidyon ha’ben and then he recites the Shehecheyanu blessing in which he thanks God for giving him this moment in his life. Immediately following the recital of these two blessings, the father hands over the redemption money to the kohen. The kohen holds the money over the head of the child and recites the following: “With this money, this child is redeemed and he should now enter into life, live it in accordance with the laws of the Torah, guided by the fear of God. Even as he has entered into the ceremony of pidyon haben, he should enter into the world of Torah, into marriage and should help create a universe of kindness.”
The kohen then places his hands over the child’s head and recited the Birchat Kohanim, the priestly blessing, and then returns the child to his father.
It is the custom to celebrate the pidyon ha’ben with a festive meal and to perform the ceremony during the course of the meal. This festive meal is considered a seudat mitzvah, with all the halachic ramifications attached to this concept.
Even though the Temple is no longer in existence and the kohanim no longer practice their priestly profession, pidyon ha’ben is a requirement for all Jewish firstborn males any place, anytime.
Although the ownership in the redemption money must be legally conveyed by the father to the kohen for the pidyon ha’ben to be effective, the kohen may, if he wishes, and generally does, return the money to the father.
As with the arba minim on Sukkot, the money can also be given as a gift with the stipulation that the gift be returned, since such a gift has the power, under Jewish property law, to convey temporary ownership.
In view of the fact that only a son who first opens his mother’s womb has the status of a bechor, neither a boy born through a C-section nor a son born in a natural way following the birth of his brother through a C-section, is a bechor and both are exempt from the requirement of pidyon ha’ben.
Unlike milah, which must take place on the 8th day of birth even if that means performing the circumcision on a Shabbat, if the 31st day following the birth is a Shabbat, the pidyon ha’ben is postponed to a Sunday.
Perhaps the rhetorical question “what would you prefer, to give me your son or to buy him back,” has a hidden message. When it comes to the lives of our children, money is no object.
Raphael Grunfeld’s book “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Judaica bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly. Comments to the writer are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea
Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.
Before performing the 10th plague God makes a fundamental argument about the ultimate nature of justice.
How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?
Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.
“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.
Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah.
The tenderest description of the husband/wife relationship is “re’im v’ahuvim/loving, kind friends”
And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).
Suddenly, she turns to me and says, “B’emet, I need to thank you, you made me excited to come back to Israel.”
Pesach is called “zikaron,” a Biblical term used describing an object eliciting a certain memory
Recouping $ and assets from Germans and Swiss for their Holocaust actions is rooted in the Exodus
Pharaoh perverted symbols of life (the Nile and midwives) into agents of death.
A more difficult situation arises when there is no evidence placing the missing husband at the site of the death.
When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.
The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.
Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.
If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.
What if, at the moment of the late brother’s death, the surviving brother cannot effect yibum because the widow is a niddah?
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/pidyon-haben-bechorot-46/2012/01/11/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: