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What are some customs observed at a Pidyon Haben?

by Rabbi Pinny Lew

  

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The act of Pidyon Haben is one that inspires G-d's blessing to all who participate in the celebration of the Mitzvah. It is for this reason that one shares food from the Pidyon Haben meal with others.

Some choose to do this with cloves of garlic and pieces of sugar as both have the ability of giving taste to more food, thereby enabling many others to participate in the mitzvah and its blessing.

The women are not forgotten. It was they who abstained from the golden calf. They would not even allow their husbands to take the slightest amount of their jewelry for sinful purpose. They take an active part in the Pidyon Haben by adorning the baby on his way to the Kohen with their golden jewelry. (This jewelry is returned after the ceremony).

The women are not forgotten. It was they who abstained from the golden calf. They would not even allow their husbands to take the slightest amount of their jewelry for sinful purpose
Our sages have taught that partaking in the meal of a Pidyon Haben serves as a substitute for eighty-four voluntary fast days of penance. This is alluded to in the fact that the first two letters of the word "pidyon" have the gematriah (numerical value) of 84.

This can also be seen by reading into a rare word in the Torah found only when the Torah discusses Pidyon Haben. The Torah writes when talking about a pidyoN "the money of the pidyoM".1   This word can be read in Hebrew as Peh Daled Yom - 84 Days.

The mitzvah is unique in that it takes place in the course of the celebratory meal, not before it.

The mitzvah qualifies for the blessing Shehecheyanu to be recited -- at a Brit (according to Ashkenazi custom) Shehecheyanu is not said.

The meal of Pidyon Haben is classified as a "Seudat Mitzvah" -- mitzvah meal.

Reprinted with permission from Mikvah.org.

Footnotes

  • 1. Numbers 3:49.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Pidyon Haben

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Shehecheyanu
A blessing recited on joyous occasions. The blessing thanks G-d for "sustaining us and enabling us to reach this occasion."
Ashkenazi
(pl. Ashkenazim). A Jew of Northern or Eastern European ancestry.
Brit
[Lit. Covenant] Circumcision. The act of removing ones foreskin 8 days after birth, perpetuating a covenant with G-d originally established by the Patriarch Abraham.
Pidyon Haben
Literally: "Redemption of the Son." Firstborn sons born to an Israelite father and mother must be redeemed on the 31st day after birth. At this ceremony, the father gives the equivalent if five silver shekels to a Priest.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.