Pidyon HaBen

by Chossid May. 22, 2012 13971 views

Originally, the Jewish firstborn were the sanctified priestly class. They were inducted into G-d's service when they were spared from the Plague of the Firstborn that struck Egypt. However, when the Jews – firstborn included – served the Golden Calf, the firstborn forfeited their status. The priesthood was transferred to the tribe that did not participate in the Golden Calf hoopla—the Levites, and particularly the children of Aaron.

Ever since, all male Israelite firstborn must redeem themselves in a pidyon haben ceremony from a descendant of Aaron, i.e. a Kohen, or member of the priestly tribe.

The Torah sets the price at five shekalim, approximately 100 grams of silver. Six US all-silver dollars will do the trick.

Traditionally, the mitzvah is performed during a “mitzvah meal” attended by family and some friends. After the meal has started, the firstborn is brought in on an elaborate silver tray adorned with jewelry.

“My Israelite wife has borne me this firstborn son,” the father tells the designated kohen.

The father and the kohen then have a brief scripted dialogue, at the conclusion of which the father gives the redemption money and recites a special blessing. The kohen then recites a blessing over a cup of wine.

It is considered a big privilege to partake of the meal celebrating a Pidyon Haben. Food served at this meal has the ability to bring atonement for sins (when accompanied by proper repentance).
Perhaps, then, this is the reason why we place around the baby, and then distribute to all present, food items that can “go a long way” by adding flavor to other foods. The guests take the sugar and garlic home with them, and whoever partakes of a dish which was flavored by one of these, is considered to have taken part in the Pidyon Haben repast.

The women are not forgotten. It was they who abstained from the golden calf. They would not even allow their husbands to take the slightest amount of their jewelry for sinful purpose. They take an active part in the Pidyon Haben by adorning the baby on his way to the Kohen with their golden jewelry. (This jewelry is returned after the ceremony).

No significance to the feet – just cute…

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There are 24 comments , add yours!
Mujay 9 years ago

#2 what a adorable shot

9 years ago Edited
Marsha 9 years ago

Oh, what a little sweetie he is....and you captured the ceremony just beautifully, Leah!! Thanks for sharing this interesting....

9 years ago Edited
Dunja 9 years ago

Really wonderful post! Congrats!

9 years ago Edited
Jacki 9 years ago

Interesting post, Leah.

9 years ago Edited
Pete 9 years ago

thank you for sharing

9 years ago Edited
Lisa Charbonneau 9 years ago

Nice set!

9 years ago Edited
Jack Castelo Branco 9 years ago


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Christa 9 years ago

This is a most interesting happening and celebration, I didn't know anything about. Thanks for the information and lovely picturs.

9 years ago Edited
Riyaz 9 years ago

Lovely post and TFS!

9 years ago Edited
Larry Sample 9 years ago

Wonderful post! And thank you for sharing. Feel richer for it!

9 years ago Edited
Geowi 9 years ago

interesting set

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Veronica Wolska 9 years ago


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Maz 9 years ago

Very cute!!!! :)

9 years ago Edited
Finbarr 9 years ago

Great shots !! and interesting post ,

9 years ago Edited
Yves Monast 9 years ago

wonderful set.....

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Laurine 9 years ago

trop mimi ;)

9 years ago Edited
Chossid 9 years ago

First of all, no, this is not my grandson. My husband is the Kohein -- descended from the priestly family of Aharon, the brother of Moshe / Moses. (On another side, BTW, he happens to be descended from King David, as well, so both the priestly and kingly (?) families.) "Priests" and their descendants do not have to redeem their firstborn sons, since they do indeed serve as priests, in the time of the (past and future) temples. So we don't have this celebration often in our family. This is the celebration of a young couple in our community.

Jay is indeed right, in that "rabbi" means "teacher." While in some ways, it may seem that a rabbi's function parallels a (non-Jewish) priest, his job is first and foremost to teach and guide. Yes, only a "Kohein" is a priest, but not only people whose last name is Cohen/Cohn/Kohn/Kogan/Koganovych...... Our name is not one of those, yet the family had a written document, before World War II, tracing the family lineage all the way back to Aharon the first priest.

9 years ago Edited
Jay 9 years ago

(I have to chuckle, because I was beginning to wonder the same thing as the person above me here :-))
Leah, this has been a pleasure to read. I love it. Simple as that.
Your explanation is as fluent and beautiful as your photos. You know, when I was in high school, I recall learning about the family name "Cohen" in religion class. I recall that this name is special: is it correct that only a "Cohen" / "Kohen" can be priests? I know many people think a rabbi is the same as a priest, but that is not necessarily so, or? Rabbi means "teacher", if I recall correctly.
Clarification? :-)

9 years ago Edited
Eiram Marie 9 years ago

Wonderful set and so interesting! The little baby boy looks very aware of this special occasion! (Your grandchild, Leah?)

9 years ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 9 years ago

How wonderful thank you for allowing us to join in this ceremony in pictures

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Marilyn Grimble 9 years ago

I too, enjoy you informative posts.

9 years ago Edited
Rob Gant 9 years ago

Fantastic set precious moments captured

9 years ago Edited
Antonio Gil 9 years ago

Another interesting tradition shared. Great work my friend.

9 years ago Edited
Olga Helys 9 years ago

Interesting !
Thanks for sharing
Congrats for the parents, grand-parents

9 years ago Edited