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Tradition & Innovation

Pidyon: A Ceremony of Redemption

By Rabbi Rami Shapiro

(Read responsively:)
Universe unfolds as a rose in spring
spilling forth a fragrant bouquet of
stars and planets,
grasses and herbs,
beasts and people.

We celebrate the unfolding of life
with this act of redemption.

Our greatest joy is walking in tune with universe,
in touch with life
and its myriad patterns and powers.
Yet to walk to the rhythm of life
we must be free
to walk at our own pace
in our own way.

We acknowledge this need
with this ceremony of redemption.

In ancient time we consecrated our first born
to priesthood, to choir, to Temple service.

Today we consecrate all our children
to life, wisdom, passion and peace.

May this child find wisdom
in every blade of grass,
knowledge in every clump of earth.

May s/he see the value of human striving
and the worth of human travail.

May s/he find health and happiness, wisdom and joy
in the world around and within her/him.

We hope for the welfare of this child
and celebrate the unfolding of this new life venture.

(Parents bring the child to the rabbi and say:)
This is the child who to be redeemed that s/he might
be free to walk her/his own path in her/his own way.

(Rabbi cradles the child with one arm and lifts five silver dollars with the
other:)

Which will you choose: certainty or risk?

Which will you do:
tie this child to the supposed surety
of a life mapped out,
or redeem her/him from surety.
allowing her/him the joy of discovery,
the pain of mistake,
the labors of freedom.
and the risk of love?

(Parents respond:)
We choose to share in the growth of our child.
We choose the uncertainty of freedom to a road well trod.

(The rabbi returns the child to the parents:)
This for that, surety for life.

May this child and her/his family never regret this moment when they choose
to redeem her/him from a false security, preferring instead the awesome path
of autonomy and freedom.

It is our fervent hope that s/he will enter into a healthy life full of learning,
passion and joy.

May the life s/he will eventually lead be a blessing
to all who know her/him.

May we who celebrate this ceremony of redemption continue our own
redemption as wellredemption
from habit and ignorance,
redemption from injustice and injury,
redemption from thoughtless behavior
and all manner of needless suffering.
And may we add our blessing to this family
that they may grow and prosper,
partaking fully of the joys and sorrows of growing up.

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