1

It's clear from the mishnayos in the eighth chapter of B'choros[1] that one is capable of redeeming his firstborn son before the latter is a month old. (For example, they discuss whether the kohen must return the redemption money if the baby died after the redemption before the baby turned a month old.)

Considering the redemption celebrations that people make on such an occasion nowadays[2] in the United States, and considering that sometimes it would doubtless be more convenient to hold such a party on one day than on another for a variety of reasons, I'm surprised that I've never heard of a redemption being held early. Why not?


[1] I haven't studied that g'mara.

[2] Not right now, during the COVID-19 epidemic, but more generally.

3

It is not clear that you can redeem the child before he is a month old. What is clear in the sources is you can give the money to the priest before the child is a month old stipulating that the money is for the redemption which will take effect only later at the correct time. No mitzva is accomplished yet at this early ceremony. It's likely more comparable to building a sukkah before sukkot; you are putting all the right pieces in the right places so later you can perform the mitzva correctly. (This is true at least according to Shemuel there, who we probably rule like, that the money needs to stay in the priest's possession until after the redemption takes effect.)

Accordingly, when asked about giving the money on a Friday for a child who would be ready for redemption only on Shabbat, the Terumat Hadeshen (1:269) discouraged it because it leads to a doubt about when to say the blessing (there is no mitzva done on Friday and there is no action done on Shabbat) and when to have the meal (there is nothing to celebrate on Friday and on Shabbat a meal would not accomplish any publicizing of the mitzva). Accordingly he thought it better to wait for Sunday when the ceremony can all go smoothly. Pushing off the redemption is not ideal but not nearly as problematic as, say, pushing off a circumcision.

(Maharshal (#7) argued that it would be better to do it on Friday in the above case, but common practice is apparently not that way.)

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  • It's probably also not popular because it's counterintuitive and requires a precise stipulation and special extra details about preserving the money and not giving it back, etc. But that's just speculative sociology not halakha. – Double AA Sep 27 at 1:14

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