AP’s Pidyon HaBen Photo Essay: “Jews Redeem Firstborn Son In Ancient Ceremony”

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Yaakov Tabersky, carries his 30-day-old son Yossef, the great grandchild of the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the "Pidyon Haben" ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The Pidyon Haben, or redemption of the firstborn son, is a Jewish ceremony hearkening back to the biblical exodus from Egypt. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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Shortly after sundown, Yaakov Tabersky presented his firstborn son on a silver platter to a Jewish priest in a ceremony harking back to the biblical exodus from Egypt.

The ceremony, known as “pidyon ha-ben,” or redemption of the firstborn, was held in an ultra-Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. Thursday night’s ceremony had added significance because the baby is the great-grandchild of Aharon Biderman, the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty.

Firstborn sons originally made up the priesthood of the ancient Israelites. As described in the Book of Exodus, they were spared from the final plague brought upon the pharaoh, in which God was said to have wiped out the firstborn sons of Egypt, an event commemorated every spring at Passover.

However, the Jewish firstborn later lost that privilege when the Israelites joined in the worship of a golden calf, after being delivered from Egypt, in defiance of the prohibition against idolatry. The priesthood was then transferred to the descendants of the prophet Aaron, who did not participate. Tradition holds that Jews should redeem their firstborn sons to a kohen, a member of the priestly class descended from Aaron.

The ceremony is held 30 days after the birth of the mother’s first son and accompanied by a festive meal attended by family and friends. Participants dress in their finest attire and adorn the baby with jewelry to celebrate the blessing. The rite is mainly observed by the ultra-Orthodox.

The father presents the baby on a silver platter to the kohen, symbolically returning his firstborn son to God. The kohen then offers to accept five silver coins instead of the child, and once the payment is made the son is redeemed. The kohen then raises a glass of wine and recites a prayer.

Here is a gallery of images from Oded Balilty, the Associated Press’ chief photographer for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Yaakov Tabersky, right, presented his firstborn son, Yossef on a silver platter to Jewish priests from the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The Pidyon Haben, or redemption of the firstborn son, is a Jewish ceremony hearkening back to the biblical exodus from Egypt. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Yaakov Tabersky, left, blessed by Haharon Biderman, the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony for his son, Yossef, in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Yaakov Tabersky, lest, presented his firstborn son, Yossef on a silver platter to Jewish priests from the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women adorn 30-day-old Yossef Tabersky, the great grandchild of the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women are holding 30-day-old Yossef Tabersky, the great grandchild of the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, members of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty attend the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony of the great grandchild of their chief rabbi Aharon Biderman in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish newborn Yossef Tabersky, the great grandchild of the chief rabbi of the Lelov Hassidic dynasty, is seen in the women section during the “Pidyon Haben” ceremony in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

(AP)

6 COMMENTS

  1. Do you just blindly copy AP articles? Observed by ultra orthodox??? Misnagdim don’t hold from Pidyon Haben? Many who are not yet Shomer Shabbos are PODEH their Bechor.
    You should start editing the news feeds that you subscribe to (to reflect an accurate and Frum viewpoint) rather than just reprinting.

  2. “Tradition holds….
    “The rite is mainly observed by the ultra-Orthodox.”

    What nonsense is this? Can you imagine the same words being written about the prohibition on eating pork?! “This diet is mainly observed by the ultra-Orthodox”?!

  3. You call it an ancient ritual, but I call it a living, breathing ceremony that is as modern as we Jews are. The Torah is alive and up to date with the times!

  4. It is not only Chassidim who do this but everyone. And if someone didn’t have a pidyon haben at 30 days because his father failed to redeem him, he can still do it even if he is an adult.

  5. Hey, Millhous: Eating kosher is primarily done by Orthodox Jews. If the AP wrote that, it would be correct. And where in this article is the statement you put in quotation marks that pidyon ha’aben is practiced primarily by the ultra-Orthodox.

    Just to be clear, I do not know how widely the pidyon ha’aben ritual is practiced. Does anyone have reliable information about it? (Milhous, I am not asking you.)