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What are the conditions that require the pidyon haben ceremony?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus


Library » Life Cycle » Pidyon Haben | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The firstborn child of a mother, if it is a male baby, is required to have a Pidyon Haben -- even if the father already has other children. This obligation only applies if both the parents are children of Israelites. If the father is a Kohen or a Levite, or if the mother is the daughter of a Kohen or Levite, the pidyon haben is not done.

(If the mother or father is the child of a Kohen but had been stripped of priestly status as such for whatever reason, the pidyon haben is required.)

If the mother had previously miscarried, a rabbinic authority must be consulted. (Depending on how far along she had been in the pregnancy, the miscarried fetus may or may not disqualify the second child from the status of firstborn.)

If the child was delivered via caesarean section, then no pidyon haben is held, not for the firstborn, and not for the next child.

If the mother is a daughter of a Kohen but married a non-Jew the son needs to be redeemed. If the mother is a daughter of a Levi but married a non-Jew the son the pidyon haben is not done.1 2

If a daughter is born first, then no redemption of a subsequent male child is necessary.


  • 1. Yoreh Deah 305:18
  • 2. If the father of the child isn't Jewish, please ask a competent Rabbinic authority as there are different opinions when the Pidyon Haben is done - either on the 31st day or at the child's Bar Mitzvah.


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Pidyon haben

Posted by: Anonymous, Plainview, NY on Jun 27, 2005

The pidyon haben is not required if the birth was not "natural", the result of a c-section, for example.

Power of Pidyon HaBen

Posted by: x ben x on Jan 13, 2006

This occasion has a massive amount of power in it, even more than the brit. It transforms the extra Light of the Creator that the firstborn has from judgement to mercy. This is why many of the most mischievous people are firstborns who have not had a Pidyon HaBen. The instance of Yakkov taking Esau's birthright is directly related to this extra Light of the firstborn. Yakkov saved Esau's life, because Esau could not handle the extra aspect of the Creator, due to his massive negativity.


Mitzvot » Pidyon Haben

A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
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.
1. Name of Patriarch Jacob's third son. 2. A Levite -- a Jew who is a patrilineal descendant of Levi. Levites had special duties in the Holy Temple, and are still accorded special respect.