Essentially, according to ancient Jewish tradition, the duties of the priesthood were prescribed to the first born son. Following the exodus from Egypt, the duties of the priesthood were taken away from the first born sons and given to the descendants of Aaron (the tribe of Levi). Nevertheless, because there was still some sense of sanctity belonging to the first-born sons, it became necessary to "redeem" these children from their priestly duties. The ceremony is traditionally held at least 30 days after birth. A descendant of Aaron (a "Kohen") performs the ceremony and asks if the parents wish to redeem their son. The parents pay five silver coins to the Kohen and say two blessings:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot (good deeds), and instructed us regarding the redemption of a son.Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
The Kohen then gives a blessing over the child and a blessing over wine. Everyone sings a congratulatory song, and the ceremony is done. The entire exchange takes about five minutes.
Our next ceremony was blessing the house. It is customary in a Jewish home to hang a mezuzah on the door - it is a little decorative tube with a blessing inside:
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.
Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.
You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.
And it will be, if you will diligently obey My commandments which I enjoin upon you this day, to love the L-rd your G-d and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give rain for your land at the proper time, the early rain and the late rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be sated. Take care lest your heart be lured away, and you turn astray and worship alien gods and bow down to them. For then the L-rd's wrath will flare up against you, and He will close the heavens so that there will be no rain and the earth will not yield its produce, and you will swiftly perish from the good land which the L-rd gives you. Therefore, place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, to speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates - so that your days and the days of your children may be prolonged on the land which the L-rd swore to your fathers to give to them for as long as the heavens are above the earth.
The L-rd spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to attach a thread of blue on the fringe of each corner. They shall be to you as tzizit, and you shall look upon them and remember all the commandments of the L-rd and fulfill them, and you will not follow after your heart and after your eyes by which you go astray - so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments and be holy to your G-d. I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d; I, the L-rd, am your G-d. True.As is tradition, we said a blessing over our house and said the prayer for hanging the mezuzah. At long last, we have made our house "officially" our home!