Hassidic Jews perform the rare mitzvah of Petter Chamor

The biblical instruction to redeem the first-born son of a female donkey by a Cohen, if not, the beast must be beheaded.

April 22, 2019 23:08
1 minute read.
Hassidic Jews perform the rare mitzvah of Petter Chamor

Hassidic Jews performing the rare mitzva of Petter Chamor. (photo credit: EYTAN ELHADAZ/ TPS)


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Hassidic Jews from the two important dynasties of Pinsk-Karlin and Sanz performed on Monday the attainment of a rare mitzvah [good deed], the redemption of the first born donkey.

Known in Hebrew as Petter Chamor, the biblical instruction is specific to the land of Israel and was not performed in diaspora.

The specifics of it are that a Jewish owner of the female donkey [Jennet] who delivered the foal must offer a lamb or a kid to a Jewish person who is a Cohen. The lamb then becomes the property of the Jewish person who is a Cohen.

The class of Cohanim, believed to be the sons of Aron brother of Moses, still functions in Jewish society today despite not having a temple in which to offer sacrifices to God as the Torah instructs.

While the Torah speaks only about the first born son from a Jennet, the opinion during the time of the Second Temple was that every first-born son of any beast used by Jewish people must be so redeemed, either with an offer of lamb or money to the Cohanim. However the opinion of the wise people of Israel was that the instruction should be limited to only donkeys.

Held in Netanya, the Cohen who redeemed the fowl was the leader of the Pinsk-Karlin dynasty Rebbe Aryeh Rosenfeld and the owner of the donkey who requested the aid was Rebbe Zvi Elimelech Halberstam who leads the Sanz dynasty.

Jewish thinkers suggested that the goal of the instruction is to help people be reminded that their possessions [beasts] must be used for spiritual growth or else they lead to destruction, as the first born fowl that is not redeemed must be slain.


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