Rare Mitzvah Was Fulfilled in Moscow…Thirty Times at Once

No less than 30 firstborn men fulfilled the mitzvah of pidyon haben in Moscow in an impressive, and rarely-seen ceremony.

Photos: Levi Nazarov

No less than 30 firstborn men fulfilled the mitzvah of pidyon haben in Moscow in an impressive, and rarely-seen ceremony.

The mitzvah of pidyon haben is usually done when the first-born son is thirty days old, and is fulfilled by the infant’s father. In a case where the parents did not do the mitzvah, and the child has already passed the age of bar mitzvah, the firstborn does the mitzvah himself.

With the mitzvah only able to be done with the first child of the family, and only if the child is a boy, it is a fairly uncommon mitzvah under regular circumstances. To have multiple firstborns fulfilling the mitzvah at once is virtually unheard of.

The special ceremony in Moscow was held as part of the spiritual efforts of the community in Russia’s capital to support and assist their brethren in Eretz Yisroel during this challenging time. Organizers felt that this mitzvah was especially appropriate, as the holy Zohar states that “By this act of redemption, the Angel of Life is strengthened.”

The firstborns were all students who recently joined one of the many educational institutions in Moscow, which were established by Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar. The Chief Rabbi himself took a part in the celebration and offered an address at the event with warm wishes to the firstborns and all the participants. He also recited the bracha of bris milah for a number of teenagers who received their brissin on that day and gave them Jewish names.

One after another, the firstborns came up to the dais and told the Kohanim “I wish to redeem myself, and here are five sela’im that I am obligated to give,” and handed five silver coins to the Kohen and answered amen on the brachos.

The touching ceremony was headed by Rabbi Mordechai Weisberg, Director of the Jewish community in Moscow. In his speech, he thanked philanthropist R’ Efraim Benyominov for his support for the event. After he spoke, the Kohanim and the heads of the schools where the firstborns are studying were called up to address the newly-redeemed firstborns and the crowd. The event concluded with a joint birchas kohanim from all Kohanim present in the merit of the firstborns and all our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel.

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