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Why is there a difference in Seforim when discussing the Taanis of the firstborns before Pesach? For instance, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichos Shlomo Moadim I (8:1) calls it Taanis Bechorim, while Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky in Kovetz Halachos Pesach (13:1) calls it Taanis Bechoros.

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  • Interesting how it’s only called Makat Bechorot also Commented Apr 15 at 19:40
  • Probably an Aramaic vs Hebrew thing.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 18 at 2:00
  • @Rafael or Yiddish/Hebrew
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 22 at 14:22

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As far as I can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to choose one over the other. Indeed, both plural forms appear in Tanakh: in Gen 4:4, Deut 12:6, 12:17, 14:23, Neh 10:37 with the ־ות ending, and in Is 14:30, Ps 135:8, 136:10, Neh 10:37 with the ־ים ending (or really, with the ־ֵי plural construct suffix, underlying a plural ־ים ending). Note that in Neh 10:37, both forms are used in the same verse (and both in the same form: plural construct)! None of the commentators on Neh 10:37 that I've seen mention a distinction (see here and here).

A search in the Bar Ilan Responsa Project for תענית בכורות and תענית בכורים reveal about equal hits for each (although I haven't counted the distinct number of authors or their time periods/locations). I did see that R. Moshe Sternbuch in his תשובות והנהגות wrote תענית בכורים in 2:210 but תענית בכורות in 3:114, supporting my claim that there is no distinction.

I'll add that another popular phrase with that word — מכת בכורות — is not as fixed as we might think. The 31 hits from the Bar Ilan Responsa Project for מכת בכורים include the Vienna manuscript of Tosefta Brachot 2:1 has מכת בכורים (although the Erfurt manuscript has בכורות), Ibn Ezra to Ex 11:1, and the She'iltot to Tzav (#80, ed. Mirsky).

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