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Redemption of the Firstborn

According to the Torah, God claims the first fruits for Himself. In the case of humans, this applies specifically to the first child of a woman if that child is male and is born vaginally. Isaac, therefore, would be required to serve at the Temple. However, the Torah gives us the option to redeem him from a priest for 5 silver coins. Practically, this would have prevented the Temple from being over-run with unwilling helpers. You couldn't shirk this duty if you were born of the tribe of Levy or were the son of a priest (cohen). The Comisars are neither priests nor Levites, so we got to buy Isaac back for a life of engineering (what else would our son want to be?) on Dec. 27, 2005. Here we are during the ceremony with Rabbi Levy (described recently in a Jewish magazine article as "diminutive, cheeky bald man who looks more like a yogic healer") and Jed Cohen. Unless you were given the name at Ellis Island, Cohens/Kahns/and several other versions, trace their ancestry through the father back to the first Temple Priests. Today they perform certain blessings, serve at Pidyon HaBens and must sit in a special room reserved for them at Jewish funeral homes (being in the presence of a corpse would defile them).


Here we are setting up the food for the celebration after the ceremony. Since it was the week between Christmas and New Years, the Temple/Church was deserted. We were starting to fear the Rabbi had forgotten us. There was also no Cohen, which made Wendy very nervous. Eventually, the cantor came in to say the Rabbi had called her to say he'd forgotten to write down that the ceremony was at the Temple. He was at our house. Eventually he arrived with the Cohen.

The ceremony was beautiful. The only hitch--Wendy handed Craig the 5 silver coins and said, "Put them in your PANTS pocket, not in your coat." Craig said okay, then promptly put the coins in his coat. Randy, always tidying up, hung the coat up in the coatroom. Isaac almost ended up having to go home with Jed. We figured Jed would return him long about 2 a.m., though.

Isaac pretty much slept through the entire ceremony. Here he is afterwards with Grandpa. Mom actually remembered to put his kippah on this time (unlike at his bris).

We hadn't bought him a special outfit for the ceremony and hadn't decided yet what he would wear, when the night before we came home to find a package from Oma Susanne (Wendy's German host-mom) with an adorable little teddy bear suit.

Aunt Kim took the pictures with the fabulous new digital camera Randy and Linda bought us for Christmas. Here is Kim experimenting with the 12x optical zoom.


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