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Assuming you follow the tradition that only first-born males are obligated to fast the day before Passover, do the males who have an older sister count as first-born or not?

Wikipedia doesn't seem to address that specific question, nor does Chabad as far as I can tell.

Please note that the question is about general rules, e.g. does not involve any edge cases that might obligate someone to fast even if they would not fast in general, e.g. father fasting on behalf of young child etc....

To clarify, the gist of the question is, does "Bechor" mean "a first child of parents, who also happens to be male", or "a first male child (even if there are older female children)". In other words, if a family has a girl who was born first (bekirah), does it make her younger brother NOT "bechor"?

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DVK welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for the question! You seem active already across SE so I'm glad you stopped by and hope you continue to stick around, participate and enjoy :) –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 2:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Vilna Gaon (OC 470, s.v. v'ein) explains the opinion that exempts women from fasting as due to the fact that women lack k'dushas b'choros (the sanctified status of firstborns). A male with an older sister also lacks k'dushas b'chor since he is not a firstborn, so the opinion that exempts the older sister would certainly exempt the brother.

In fact, a male with an older sister is neither a b'chor with respect to redeeming the firstborn (B'choros 48a) nor with respect to the privilege of receiving a double inheritance (see B'choros 47b; Shita M'kubetzes ad loc., Gloss 15 "תיבת זכר נמחק").

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Can you throw in a source for your last line? (Shouldn't be too hard to find. Isn't there a whole series of Mishnayot about that in Bechorot?) –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 6:03
@DoubleAA Done. –  Fred May 2 '13 at 23:55

The firstborn, if a son, fasts. If the firstborn is a girl, then the first son is not the first born for the sake of this fast.


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Is this true for Ashkenazim or Sephardim or both or someone else? –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 1:49
the extant sephardic minhag of having a woman fast (as recorded at halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Tanit_Bechorot item 2) would not affect whether a younger sibling is considered a first born. –  Danno May 2 '13 at 1:57
@Dan "...would not affect whether a younger..." I think the icing on the cake would be if you could provide a source indicating that eldest sons with older sisters did not die in the plague of the firstborn, considering that that is the important criterion according to the opinion that obligates women to fast. (Granted that's not the case in the OP). –  Fred May 2 '13 at 5:26
@Fred true -- as it stands, all the claims are those of inference by exclusion "According to the Bayit Chadash, the Sefer Agudah, and arguably the Maharil, both men and women are obligated to fast. This is based upon the Midrash, which states that both men and women among the firstborn Egyptians perished in the plague (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, 7; Exodus Rabbah, 18:3). Following a precedent common in Jewish commemorative rituals, the above authorities ruled that all those who were miraculously saved should participate in commemoration (see also Pesachim 108b)." [the wiki entry] –  Danno May 2 '13 at 10:50
@Fred continued -- since the first boy with an older sister would have had a family member who was saved in the role of 'first born', even if a girl, then there would be no reason to include him as "first born" anymore. –  Danno May 2 '13 at 10:51

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