Pidyon Haben - Redeeming Of The Firstborn
A Pidyon Haben takes place because the Torah states that every firstborn son initially "belongs" to God (Bamidbar 3:13). The ceremony commemorates the miracle in which the firstborn sons of the Israelites were saved during the ten plagues in Egypt. The child is redeemed by the father giving five special coins to a Cohen.
A Pidyon Haben is relatively rare. It is a joyous ceremony which takes place during the day of the 31st day after the birth, the day of birth being the first day. It does not take place on Shabbat or Yom Tov but on the following day.
However, it does not take place in the following circumstances
- A baby boy who is not his mother’s firstborn child even if he is his father’s firstborn. (If he is his mother’s firstborn but not his father’s, he must be redeemed).
- If the baby’s father is a Cohen or Levi or the mother is the daughter of a Cohen or Levi.
- If the baby was born by caesarean section.
- If it was a forceps-assisted delivery or if the mother had a previous miscarriage (please consult the Rabbi).
A Pidyon Haben is usually accompanied by a festive meal and the actual ceremony takes place after Hamotzi has been recited over bread. For a description of the ceremony please see page 810 in the Chief Rabbi’s siddur.
Even if the baby has not had his Brit the Pidyon Haben should still take place.