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The Complete Pidyon Haben Procedure & Ceremony

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The principal participants of the pidyon haben ("redemption of the firstborn") ceremony are the father, his firstborn baby boy, and the kohen (priest). It is customary to invite family and friends to help celebrate this special mitzvah and enjoy a festive meal. Ideally, the meal includes wine and meat. It is also preferable to arrange for a minyan (quorum of ten adult males) to be present.

The parents dress themselves and their son in holiday finery in honor of the mitzvah. To show our love for the mitzvah, it is customary to bedeck the baby with jewelry and place him on a silver tray.

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After the assembled have washed their hands, recited the Hamotzie blessing and broken bread, the father brings the firstborn before the kohen, as well as five shekels of silver (or their equivalent).

Father: My Israelite wife has borne me this firstborn son.

Kohen: Which would you rather have—your firstborn son, or the five coins which you are obligated to give me for the redemption of this your firstborn son?

Father: I want this, my firstborn son, and here you have five coins which are required of me for the redemption.

Kohen: "Which would you rather have—your firstborn son, or the five coins which you are obligated to give me?"The father extends his hand with the redemption money and recites the following two blessings:

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the redemption of a son.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

He then gives the money to the kohen, who lifts a cup of wine and recites:

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who created fruit of the vine.

The kohen then drinks from the wine.1

Click here for the Hebrew text.

(The above text follows Chabad tradition. Click here for the traditional Ashkenazi text, and here for Sephardic.)

The festive meal that follows is accompanied with joyous singing and inspiring words of Torah. It is customary to share food from the meal with others who were not able to participate. Some choose to distribute cloves of garlic and pieces of sugar since both are capable of imparting flavor to additional quantities of food, thereby enabling many others to participate in the mitzvah.

Grace After Meals is recited.

Note: If the baby's father is not Jewish, or if he is not available to perform the ceremony for any reason, or if an adult firstborn is redeeming himself, speak to a competent rabbi.

Footnotes
1.

If there is no wine, the redemption ceremony is performed before bread is broken and the kohen recites a blessing over another beverage.

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Sarah Monroe, ny July 22, 2017

What is the equivalent of the 5 shekels in united states currency. Reply

Pidyon Haben: We are commanded to “redeem” firstborn sons after they reach 30 days of age. What is the significance of this rite, and how is it done?
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