Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

Pidyon Haben

Pidyon Haben

Firstborn Son for Sale!


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, a.k.a a kohen.


Any male who is a firstborn to his mother. Exceptions include:

1. If either parent is the child of a kohen or Levite

2. C-section babies.

If the parents don't redeem their child, then upon reaching adulthood, he must do it himself3. If the mother miscarried before the birth of this child—consult a rabbi.

If the parents don't redeem their child, then upon reaching adulthood, he must do it himself.


On the child's 31st day. Already past? Then ASAP.

Sephardic Jews schedule the ceremony for the eve of the 31st day, Ashkenazim for the afternoon of the 31st day.

What if that day falls on Shabbat or a major Jewish holiday? Then hold the ceremony the next night or day.


The Torah sets the price at five shekalim, approximately 100 grams of silver.

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.

Our sages say that partaking of the pidyon haben meal has the same spiritual benefit as does fasting for 84 days! That's why it's a tradition to serve packets of sugar and garlic—food that goes a long way for a long time.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
sc January 20, 2016

supporting documentation Thank you for your response, Shaul Wolf. Can you tell me where you obtained the info to support your statements. Reply

Shaul Wolf January 19, 2016

RE: Aaron Aaron attempted to prevent the construction of the Golden Calf, and did everything in his power to delay it. He deliberately instructed them to ask for jewelry from their wives rather than taking from the stockpiles of treasures they had, in the hope that this would delay the process and Moses would by then return. He acted involuntarily, for fear of his life.
See here for more info: Reply

sc January 16, 2016

wondering I wonder, as David a Rosenberg did....Aaron and his sons were Levites and Aaron participated in the making of the golden calf...was it because he repented that the priesthood was able to be transferred to the Levites? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for May 5, 2015

To Dan A child born to the daughter of a Kohen (or a Levite) does not have a pidyon haben. Only if both parents are regular Israelites is a pidyon haben required. Reply

dan pollock May 3, 2015

pidyon ha ben can a daughter of a cohen perform the pidyon ha ben Reply

Yosef Brooklyn March 13, 2015

Re: source for packets of sugar and garlic Hi Shaul,
Thank you for your response. However, the letter of the Rebbe refers to concept of of attending the Pidyan Haben is like taking part in 84 fasts. The rebbe is not referring to a source why we serve garlic at the Pidyan Haben

"That's why it's a tradition to serve packets of sugar and garlic—food that goes a long way for a long time." What is the source for serving Garlic and Sugar? Reply

Shaul Wolf March 9, 2015

Re: Source In the Igros/Letters of the Rebbe (volume 10 page 85) the Rebbe cites the sefer Shem MiShimon, who discusses the source for this custom. The Rebbe notes that he himself has not seen this custom brought in any Chabad literature, yet the sources cited in that book are reliable.
In the book "Pidion Haben K'Hilchaso", chapter 8 footnote 40, there are cited many other sources for this custom. Reply

yosef March 1, 2015

packets of sugar and garlic "That's why it's a tradition to serve packets of sugar and garlic—food that goes a long way for a long time."

What is the source for this custom? Reply

Pinkhaus Ben Avaham Australia December 22, 2014

Thank u Rabbi for this post Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for August 30, 2014

To Anonymous in Brooklyn As with all seudot mitzvah (meals associated with a mitzvah) Ideally it should be meat. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn August 28, 2014

Dairy meal Can the meal be dairy or it has to be meat? ty Reply

Davida Rosenberg Lutz May 1, 2014

Since it was Aaron who orchestrated the gathering of gold from Israel to construct the idol of the golden calf, he participated in the event, .. did he not? Therefore, why are his sons and the tribe of Levi exempt from the pidyon haben? Reply

Laurie ellis st augustine, FL - Florida June 20, 2012

pidyon haben Did the other set of grandparents know that you were expecting? Did you give birth to a first born?
Don't postpone because of inconvenience.
Respect tradition. Reply

Menachem Posner for April 20, 2010

To Anon in Stamford A child is considered to be a firstborn only if his head (or a large portion thereof) actually exited through the birth canal. As such, in the event that his head was visible through--but did not actually exit--the birth canal, he is not eligible for pidyon haben.

As these laws are quite complex, it is imperative that practical questions of this matter be discussed with a knowledgeable Orthodox rabbi. Reply

Anonymous stamford, ct April 4, 2010

Pidyon Haben 1) If during childborth the mother dilated during birth to the max, and the baby's head was visible to the ObGyn , but a C section still had to performed at the very last minute, does the baby qualify for the obligation?

2) If the baby is not obligated, because of the above, is there any prohibition keeping the parents from having a pidyon haben anyhow? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for August 24, 2009

Re: pidyon haben Since there is a positive commandment to redeem the child, If one waits beyond the 31st day one has transgressed a positive Mitzvah. Therefore, one does not postpone the Pidyon Haben. Reply

Anonymous Montreal, QC / Canada August 24, 2009

pidyon haben Can this pidyon haben take place more than 31 days after the birth as one set of the Grandparents are not avaiable to take part until the 38th Day? Reply

Related Topics