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Fast For the Firstborn Female?

Fast For the Firstborn Female?

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Question:

I have heard that there is a special ceremony called a siyum that Jewish firstborns attend in the synagogue on the morning before Passover. Is this something that firstborn females attend as well, or is it just for men? I have been hearing conflicting reports.

Answer:

First a bit of background:

A siyum is a celebration marking the completion of the study of a tractate of Talmud. This joyous event normally features some Torah thoughts discussing the last few lines of the Tractate just completed as well as refreshments.

Now, what does the siyum have to do with the morning before Passover?

It is customary for firstborns to fast on the day before Passover, commemorating the fact that on that night (the eve of Passover), G‑d slew the firstborn Egyptians, but spared the firstborn Jews. This is a minor fast, about which we are more inclined to be lenient—especially since the day before Passover is a very busy time when people need their energy. As such, it is common for the firstborns to be present at a joyous occasion—such as a siyum or a circumcision—where participating in the celebratory meal is a mitzvah. Once they have already broken their fast at the meal, they may continue to eat the rest of the day. The rationale is that participating in the siyum and its accompanying meal accomplishes whatever a fast would have accomplished—plus some.

In light of the fact that both male and female firstborn Egyptians died, Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Code of Jewish Law, writes that in some communities the women observe this fast along with the men. However, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (known as the Rama) writes in his commentary on the Code that this is not the usual custom, and that only men must fast. This is because the narrative in the Torah makes no mention of women being included in the death of the firstborn.

The prevailing custom is that only men observe the fast (or participate in a siyum), but there are some communities, predominantly Sephardic, where women observe it too. So what should you do? I would suggest that you talk to your rabbi to find out what tradition is prevalent in your community.

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov

for "Ask the Rabbi" @ Chabad.org


Source:
Code of Jewish Law Orech Chayim 470.
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
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moti horowitz bk, ny May 27, 2010

Fast For the Firstborn Female? Although I am ashkenazic, when I read the Me-am Lo-ez, who is sfaradic, I still fasted (or went to a siyum) for my 1st born daughter until she was 12 and then told her to fast if she wants, as mentioned in his book. This had more to do with the fact that it was a chance for ME to feel like a 1st born. I have only 1 brother and he's the oldest ("bchor") and my father, may his memory be a blessing, was a bchor too. I always felt left out on these occasions, especially on holidays, when cohanim bless us and in my shul there was only 1 levi and many cohanim. The levi was old and half the time could not come. At that point, my father and brother would take his place and wash the cohanim's hands; and, boy, did I feel left out. Reply

Anonymous New York City March 30, 2017
in response to moti horowitz:

The 1st born female should definitely fast because she was spared due to.being a girl. They must thank g d for all the things they didn't have to do. Such as. Going to war. Hunting for food. Working hard to bring home money for the family. Etc. all a women had to do is make babies. Cook. Look pretty😴 Reply