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Jan 3 2014

Torah MOMentary: What Do We Make of the Killing of the Firstborn?

By at 9:46 am
"Lamentations over the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt" by Charles Sprague Pearce

“Lamentations over the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt” by Charles Sprague Pearce

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Bo. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week’s Torah portion is Bo. We read about the final plagues, culminating in the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn.

I often like to interpret Torah metaphorically. I love the Hassidic tradition of reading Torah as a sort of psychological analogue for what’s happening inside us all the time. For me, this is a way of connecting to Torah as a story that’s happening continually, rather than an ancient document that may or may not have taken place.

But sometimes there is a story so literal and vivid that to metaphorize it feels like a cop-out. For example, the slaying of the firstborn.

The 10 plagues always felt kind of removed from me–sort of magical and not relatable, like a fairy tale. Now, reading as a new mom, the words “slaying of the firstborn” feel very, very real. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 12 2013

Buying My Son from a Priest for a Few Silver Coins

By at 9:51 am

silver coinsI knew my life had gotten strange when I found myself standing in my in-laws’ living room, having recently purchased my son from a priest, as my husband threw chocolate silver coins down my hooter hider while I breastfed my son.

We were at my in-laws for my son’s pidyon haben, a ceremony where a firstborn male child who meets all sorts of criteria, such as resulting from a vaginal birth and not having a mother who is the child of a Cohen or a Levi, is redeemed from Temple service. I am pretty ambivalent about all things Temple-related so it wasn’t the top ritual to perform on my list. Breastfeeding in public while among a large group of elderly relatives was also not on the top of my list, but I had low milk supply and my son was latched on, more or less, 10 hours a day, so secluding myself entirely for months didn’t seem like a viable option.

My husband had apparently gone a bit bonkers from sleep deprivation, which was accounting for the throwing the chocolates down my hooter hider while yelling out “Fifty points! I am going to be able to win a cheap plastic toy!” Apparently the last level of sleep deprivation-induced insanity involves confusing your wife for an arcade game. Read the rest of this entry →

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