A pidyon haben, or “redemption of the [firstborn] son,” is a ceremony wherein the father of a firstborn male redeems his son by giving five silver coins to a kohen (a priestly descendent of Aaron), thirty days after the baby’s birth. What is the reason for this procedure? Originally, the Jewish firstborn were the sanctified priestly class. They were inducted into God’s service when they were spared from the Plague of the Firstborn that struck Egypt. However, when the Jews—firstborn included—served the Golden Calf, the firstborn forfeited their status. The priesthood was transferred to the tribe that did not participate in the Golden Calf hoopla—the Levites, and particularly the children of Aaron. Chinuch [Mitzvah 18] adds that this reminds us that everything in the world belongs to God. When we consecrate our very first and very best, we are reminded that everything really belongs to our Creator, and that we must “purchase” it from Him before using it. The Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, 1512–1609) explains that since God is the first being, it is fitting that firstborns are consecrated to Him [Gevurot Hashem 38] Biblical Sources: Just before the Exodus from Egypt, Moses relayed the following commandment from God: . . . Every firstborn male among your sons, you shall redeem. And it will come to pass that if your son asks you in the future, saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a mighty hand did God take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass when Pharaoh was too stubborn to let us out, God slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt . . .” [Exodus 13:13–16]. Nachmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, 1195–1270) explains that at that point the exact procedure for the redemption of the firstborn, as well as the fact that they would be replaced as priests by the seed of Aaron, had yet to be laid out. Only later, when most of the Jews—including the firstborn—sinned with the Golden Calf, did the firstborns forfeit their status. The priesthood was then transferred to those that did not participate in the service of the Golden Calf. At that time, God commanded: Take the Levites instead of all the firstborns among the children of Israel . . . You shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs. [Numbers 3:45-47]. And the commandment to redeem the firstborn was born.