Monday, November 7, 2011

Pidyon haBen. How frequent is it?

Last week we explained the Mitzva of Pidyon haBen, and why the first born males have to be redeemed from a Cohen.
The Pidyon HaBen applies only to males (women were not bound to the service of the Tabernacle and Bet haMiqdash).
To be redeemed, the baby must be a bekhor, a natural-born-first-born-boy, who "opened his mother's womb" (peter rechem). Therefore, if his mother have previously given birth to a baby girl, the boy who is born after her is not considered a first-born.
If the mother had a miscarriage or an abortion, the first-born is not considered a bekhor. This is when the miscarriage occurred after the third month of pregnancy. However, if the miscarriage occurred during the first 40 days of pregnancy, redemption is required. If it occurred after forty days, but before the fetus developed distinguishing physical characteristics, redemption of the first-born is still required, but the ritual berakha said by the father is omitted.
The bekhor, has to be born naturally (peter rechem). Therefore, if the first born is a boy, but he was born via C-section, he is not considered a naturally born bekhor and he is not redeemed.
Also, if the father or the mother are Cohen the Pidyon is not performed. And lastly, if the mother or father are Levites (levy), the Pidyon is not done. Why? Because the Levites are still obliged to assist the Cohanim in Divine service, andcannot be redeemed from this religious obligation. Levites remain irredeemably to this day, and are expected to report for duty as soon as B'H our Bet HaMiqdash will be rebuilt.
All these conditions mean that Pidyon haben is rather the exception, not the rule. It happens in approximately in 35% of all first time births.

This is a rare video, of Benjamin Netanyahu (he was called then "Ben Nitay") when he was student in MIT, and 28 years old. It is remarkable to see that the issues that concerned Israel today have not changed a lot, and that Mr, Netanyahu has maintained his consistency since 1978...
Don't miss it: Click here