Jews redeem their eldest son in ancient rituals


Bet Shemesh, Israel (AP) —Soon after sunset, Yaakoftabelsky presented his eldest son to a Jewish priest on a silver platter at a ceremony reminiscent of the Bible’s escape from Egypt.

The ceremony, known as “Pidion Haven” or the Redemption of the Firstborn, was held in the ultra-Orthodox community of Bet Shemesh near Jerusalem. The Thursday night ceremony became more important as the baby was the great-grandson of Aharon Byderman, the chief rabbi of the Lelovic Hasidic dynasty.

The eldest son originally constituted the priesthood of the ancient Israelites. As noted in the book of Exodus, they escaped the last plague that was brought to the Pharaoh. There, God is said to have wiped out Egypt’s eldest son. This is the Passover Festival, which is commemorated every spring.

However, the Jewish eldest son later lost that privilege when the Israelites joined the worship of the golden calf after being rescued from Egypt, ignoring the ban on idolatry. The priesthood was then transferred to the descendants of the Prophet Aaron, who did not participate. Tradition believes that Jews should redeem their eldest son for Cohen, a member of the priestly class who is a descendant of Aaron.

The ceremony takes place 30 days after the birth of the mother’s eldest son and is accompanied by a festive meal attended by family and friends. Participants wear the best clothes and jewel their babies to celebrate their blessings. The ritual is mainly observed by the ultra-Orthodox.

The father puts the baby on a silver platter and presents it to Cohen, symbolically returning his eldest son to God. Cohen then proposes to accept five silver coins on behalf of the child, and the son will be redeemed when the payment is made. After that, Cohen raises a glass of wine and prays.

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