Who should have a Pidyon Haben?

The mitzvah of pidyon haben - redeeming of the firstborn- applies only to the firstborn male Israelite child who is peter rechem – opens his mother’s womb. Not every firstborn child should have a pidyon haben. The child must be:

1.     Male
2.     Born to a Jewish mother
3.     The firstborn to his mother. The mother must never have given birth, to either a son or a daughter, before this child’s birth.

A child who is not his mother’s first child, or whose mother had a prior abortion or stillbirth, should not have a pidyon haben. If a woman had a prior miscarriage, in many cases, the child should not have a pidyon haben. A competent rabbi should be consulted.

The child does not have to be the firstborn of his father.

4.     Born naturally
A child born by C-section is not peter rechem – he does not “open his mother’s womb”. Therefore, no pidyon haben should be made if the birth was surgical.

5.     An Israelite
The child’s father must be an Israelite. His mother must be the daughter of an Israelite. An Israelite is a Jew who is neither a Kohen nor a Levite.

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