Cohen-Levi: The Tribe, the Family Heritage

The Heritage

Procedure for the Redemption of the Firstborn by the  father with the child present

The Kohen washes his hands and breaks bread. In many communities all the participants in the meal break bread at this time. The mother brings in the child. Whil standing and holding his child, the father states:

This is my firstborn son who is the firstborn of his mother. And the Holy one Blessed be He has commanded to redeem him as it is written, “And the [firstborn’s] redemption shall be from one month of age at thre valuation of five silver shekels, the holy shekels, witch is worth 20 gerah.” And it is written, “Sanctify to Me all the firstborn, that which opens every womb among the children of Israel-of man or of animal-to Me it shall be.” (exodus 13:2)

The Kohen then asks:

Which do you prefer, to give me your firstborn son who has opened his mother’s womb, or redeem him for five silver shekels as the Torah commands?

The father replies:

I choose to redeem my son. Take redemption money which the torah obligates me to give.

While holding the redemption money in his hand, the father recites the blessing:

Blessed are You, the Eternal our God, King of the Universe Who has sanctified us with his commandments and has commanded us regarding redemption of the [firstborn] son.

Blessed ar You, the Eternal our God, King of the Universe Who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this time.

The father presents the Kohen with the redemption money. The Kohen says the blessing “ borei pri hagefen” and drinks some wine. With the redemption money in his right hand, while moving the coins in a circular pattern over the head of the firstborn, the Kohen recites:

This [the coins] instead of this [firstborn son]; this in exchange for this; this is pardoned because of this. May his firstborn son enter into life, into Torah, and into awareness of heaven. May it be Your will that just as he has entered into this redemption, so may he enter into Torah, marriage, and good deeds.

Putting away the coins and placing his right hand on the child’s head, the Kohen blesses him.

May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe. May God bless you and keep you. May God shin His countenance upon you and be gracious to you. May God turn his countenance to you and give you peace. May He grant you length of days and years of life and peace. May God keep you from all evil, may He grant your soul.


Procedure for the Redemption of the Firstborn by the  firstborn himself

The Kohen washes his hands and breaks bread. In many communities all the participants in the meal break bread at this time as well. The first born declares:

I am the firstborn of my mother, and the Holy one Blessed be He commanded us to redeem the firstborn. I have not been redeemed by my father and I remain with the obligation to redeem myself, as it is written in the Torah “All your firstborn sons shall be redeemed” (Exodus 34:20), and it is learned from this that the firstborn is to redeem himself. And I am here and now prepared to fulfill this Mitzvah.

The Kohen asks:

Which do you prefer: yourself or the five silver shekels (or its equivalent) that you are obligated to give for your redemption?

The firstborn answers:

I prefer (to redeem) myself,and you take the five silver coins.

While holding the redemption money in his hand, the firstborn recites the blessing:

Blessed are You, the Eternal our God, King of the Universe, who commanded us regarding the redemption of the firstborn.

Blessed are You, the Eternal our God, King of the Universe who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this time.

The firstborn then presents the Kohen with the coins. The kohen says the blessing “borei pri hagefen” and drinks some wine. With the redemption money in his right hand ,and moving the coins in a circular pattern over the head of the firstborn, the Kohen recites:

This [the coins] instead of this [firstborn]; this in exchange for this; this is pardoned because of this. This(money) goes to the Kohen and you will enter into life, into Torah, and into awareness of heaven. May it be His will that just as you have entered into this redemption, so may you enter into Torah and good deeds.

Putting away the coins and placing his right hand on the firstborn’s head the Kohen blesses him.

May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe. May God bless you and keep you. May God shin His countenance upon you and be gracious to you. May God turn his countenance to you and give you peace. May He grant you length of days and years of life and peace. May God keep you from all evil, may He grant your soul.

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