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Relevant Laws

11) It is a positive mitzvah for each Israelite to redeem his son who is firstborn to his Israelite mother after the thirtieth day [from his birth], i.e., on the thirty-first day, with five sela’im. If he redeemed him before, he is not redeemed. If after, he has transgressed a positive mitzvah.2 Five sela’im is equivalent to the weight of eight lot of pure silver in the royal weight of our country.3 This amount may be given to the Kohen in silver or the equivalent thereof in anything except land, servants or a promissory note [of debt owed to the father]. If he redeemed with any of these, he is not redeemed.

Procedure at a Pidyon HaBen

2) The father brings the firstborn before the Kohen, and five sela’im of silver or its equivalent, and informs him that the child is a firstborn, the first issue of the womb of his Israelite mother, and says to him:

My Israelite4 wife5 has borne me this6 firstborn son.

The Kohen asks him:7

Which would you rather have your firstborn son or the five sela’im which you are obligated to give me for the redemption of this your firstborn son?

The father replies:

I want this my firstborn son, and here you have five sela’im which is required of me for the Redemption.

3) As the father gives the Kohen the redemption money, the father says:

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.

4) Some observe the custom of preparing a meal in honor of the redemption of the firstborn. If there is wine, the Redemption ceremony is performed during the meal after the blessing over bread. The Kohen recites a blessing over wine immediately after the Redemption. If there is no wine, the Redemption is performed before the meal, and the Kohen recites a blessing over another beverage. This meal is considered a seudas mitzvah.8

Footnotes
1.
The contents of this chapter appear in the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur [Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 412].
2.

Shaar HaKollel, Ch. 15:See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah Ch. 305; Terumas HaDeshen, No. 269; Responsa Chut HaShani 92, cited in Pischei Teshuvah, par. 12: we do not find that he transgresses the positive mitzvah. Nevertheless, the Alter Rebbe wrote in his Siddur, “If after, he has transgressed a positive mitzvah.” Apparently he is explaining the Gemara Bechoros 13 as explained in Mizbeach Kapparah (Shitah Mekubetzes), though Maharit Algazi in his commentary on Bechoros questions this. However, Tanya Rabasi 98 writes the same as the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur, “From then on he transgresses the positive commandment of ‘you shall redeem’ every day. Cf. Rashba in Toldos Adam, ch. 321, who says that the mitzvah continues to obligate the father in perpetuity, even after the son reaches adulthood and has property of his own. But if the father declines to redeem his son, or he does not have the means to redeem him, and later when the son reaches adulthood both the father and son have the required sum, then the father still takes precedence over the son in the mitzvah of redeeming him; nevertheless, if it is necessary to compel them, then we compel the son and not the father. Similarly in Responsa Chacham Tzvi 105:33 quoting Chut HaShani, who says that even when the son is still a child, we do not compel the father; but he disagrees, and states that we do compel the father. Ikkarei Dinim 32:24 writes the reverse.

See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 11, p. 42, stating that the ruling differs between Bavli and Yerushalmi: according to Bavli the obligation to redeem the son falls mainly upon the father, and according to Yerushalmi the mitzvah falls mainly upon the son; this difference has practical application in cases where the father failed to redeem the son.

See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 11, p. 204 (cited as a footnote to Shaar HaKollel printed in Siddur Torah Or, Kehot, 5747): “Responsa Imrei Yosher by R. Meir Arik, Vol. 2, discusses this at length, and differs with Rashash on Menachos 6a; Levush, Orach Chayim 551 agrees; Responsa Maharam Schick, Orach Chayim, No. 287 questions this, citing Kiddushin 29b. See also Avnei Nezer, Orach Chayim, Vol. 2, Ch. 459 and Yoreh De’ah, Vol. 2, Ch. 395; Divrei Malkiel, Orach Chayim 17; Pri HaSadeh 2:15; Minchas Pitim, Orach Chayim 249; Shitah Mekubetzes, Bechoros, end of Ch. 1.”

3.
[I.e., Imperial Russia.] See Shiurei Torah by R. Avraham Chayim Noeh 3:43, who states that this equals 96.5 grams of pure silver, but it is proper to be more stringent, considering it to equal 101 grams. See his calculations ad loc. for details. In the United States, it is customary to give more than five sela’im.
4.

Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 2, p. 162 :Pidyon HaBen has no relevance at all to Kohanim and Levi’im, and “Our G‑d is a Kohen” (Sanhedrin 39a); see Likkutei Shoshanim by R. Shamshan of Ostropolia, discussing when He is regarded as a Kohen Gadol, and when as an ordinary Kohen. But this does not contradict what I have written above (i.e., that Pidyon HaBen is in exchange for G‑d’s redeeming the firstborn of Israel); the fact that there is no Pidyon HaBen for a Kohen or Levi with five sela’im indicates the reverse, i.e., that five sela’im is not sufficient as an exchange for G‑d’s redeeming them in Egypt, for [in addition to redeeming them] their persons were also consecrated thereby.

5.

Shaar HaKollel 15:3:The words “my … wife” are intended to indicate that this is not a case where the mother is not his wife, and he is merely acting as the agent for her husband; regarding such a case, there are differing opinions (see Rama on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 305:10; Responsa Mahari MiBruna 206; Avnei Miluim, Even HaEzer 38:5; Responsa Beis David 6; Pischei Teshuvah 16); at a minimum, the text and procedure would be different in such a case.

Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 1, p. 294:

Regarding your remarks citing Bechoros 50a, “he sent to him,” which implies that Pidyon HaBen can be done through an agent, contrary to Rama ’s opinion (in Yoreh De’ah 335, end of par. 10): the simple answer is that only the money was sent by messenger, but the redemption was done in person; see also Chiddushei R. Akiva Eiger, loc. cit.

6.
Shaar HaKollel 15:3: “‘This ’ son, that is present before us. But if the father departed from him during the thirty-day period, and it was not known at the time whether the child had attained a presumption of viability, some say that the requirement to recite the blessing is questionable; see Pischei Teshuvah par. 21.”
7.
Edus LeYisrael al Pidyon HaBen explains why the Alter Rebbe cites the text in Aramaic: this [text] was essentially established by the Geonim, whose home was in Bavel, as we know; it is similar to several other prayers they established in that language, such as Yikum Purkan and certain passages in Uva LeTziyon. This text was copied by the Kabbalists in their Siddurim, and this was followed by Yaavetz and the Alter Rebbe. Edus LeYisrael (ibid.) states that the Alter Rebbe’s text follows that of the Geonim quoted by the Rosh and other works of the Rishonim.
8.

Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 1 0, p. 85 :It is stated in numerous seforim that participating in a Pidyon HaBen serves as a substitute for eighty-four fast days. This is discussed at length in Responsa Shem MiShimon, 1st edition, Vol. 10, Ch. 29 (i.e., this is a tikkun for one who has violated the holy covenant [by causing the waste of his semen], which requires fasting eighty-four days). So far, I have not found a source for this in the Chabad literature; nevertheless, one may rely upon the seforim cited here.

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