Kauai - Hawaii’s First Ever 'Peter Chamor' Takes Place Over Succos (video)
Kauai, Hawaii - The infrequently performed mitzvah of Peter Chamor, redemption of a first born donkey, was performed for the first known time in Hawaii over Chol Hamoed Succos, as a retired Alaskan ship captain who now owns a Kauai Esrog orchard, had the opportunity to perform this rare mitzvah.
Richard Seigel purchased a donkey several years ago and following the birth of a firstborn male donkey, began to put together all the necessary components of this seldom performed mitzvah. Contacting Rabbi Michoel Goldman, the Chabad Shaliach to Kauai, the two began combing the surrounding Hawaiian islands for a Kohein to redeem the baby donkey, named Yissachar, in honor of Shevet Yissachar, which is compared to a donkey in Birkos Yaakov. The pair finally located Liad Goldman, who recently moved from New York to Honolulu.
Prior to the ceremony, which took place on the fourth day of Chol Hamoed Succos, Rabbi Goldman explained the mitzvah of Peter Chamor, which dates back to the time of yetzias mitrayim: as a reward to the donkey for the mitzvah of helping Bnei Yisroel carry their belongings out of Mitzrayim, the donkey is rewarded with a mitzvah of its own and is the only non kosher animal whose first born is considered to be sacred.
While normally the donkey is adorned with jewelry to commemorate the jewels that were carried out of Mitzrayim, Seigel’s donkey was also adorned with customary Hawaiian flower leis. The five minute ceremony, in which Seigel gave Goldman a sheep in return for the baby donkey, was followed by a festive meal in the Seigel’s Succah.
“I have never done a Peter Chamor before,” Rabbi Goldman told VIN News. “Most kohanim never perform this ceremony in their lifetime and most Rabbonim have never facilitated it either. Everyone was so excited to attend this ceremony. Local Jews who rarely participate in Shul came due to the uniqueness of the event. It felt like an ancient ritual but was very enjoyable and made a random verse in the Torah really come to life.”
While the sheep, which was purchased at a local farm for $100, was Goldman’s to keep, he had no use for it and sold it back to Seigel for $1.
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