“I’m a firstborn son and I didn’t grow up religious. I’ve never heard of this. Can I still do it?”
Before Pesach this year, Olami’s popular Nefesh Yehudi program in Herzliya was learning about Yetzias Mitzrayim. The discussion focused on the Ten Plagues and Makas Bechoros, and then moved on to the role of the firstborn in Torah, and the mitzvah of pidyon haben. One student, 23-year-old David Gangor, had a question: “I’m a firstborn son and I didn’t grow up religious. I’ve never heard of this. Can I still do it?” The staff verified with a rav that David indeed qualified for the mitzvah. But then David asked, “We’ve already learned about the mitzvah here. But I’ll soon be attending the large Olami Mentorship Summit in the USA. With over 1,000 people, most of whom are secular students, there are likely to be other people in the same position. Can it wait?” The rav paskened that in order to publicize the mitzvah, it was fine to wait. And so, on Motzaei Shabbos May 22, one thousand people in a hotel in Stamford, Connecticut witnessed an unusual pidyon haben: Pictured are Rabbi David Rosensweig of Olami/Nefesh Yehudi, the bechor David Gangor, and the Kohein Raphael Horn, son of philanthropist Eli Horn of Brazil.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 913)
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