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Melbourne, Australia - After 2 Years, Several DNA Tests the Jewish Community Had 1st Ever Pidyon Petter Chamor

Published on: May 8, 2009 01:28 PM
By: The Jewish Chronicle
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Melbourne, Australia - It took almost two years, cost more than £5000 and involved two donkeys, one sheep, a case of mistaken sexual identity, several DNA tests and the unwavering faith of two ultra-Orthodox Jews in Australia.

This week, more than 1500 mainly Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Melbourne witnessed what is believed to be Australia’s first-ever Pidyon Petter Chamor — the redemption of the first-born male donkey.

Berel Goldberger, a Vishnitzer, and Binyomin Friedman, a Belzer, stumbled across the tractate during their daily study session at the Adass Israel Congregation.

Similar to the Pidyon haBen ceremony of the redemption of the first-born male child, this ritual involves buying the first-born male donkey back from a cohen in exchange for a sheep rather than money. The redemption means the donkey need not be slaughtered.

Mr Goldberger said: “Even though it’s not a kosher animal, the donkey has special significance because when the Jews went out of Egypt, the donkeys carried lots of loads.”

Inspired, the pair investigated the possibility of conducting the mitzvah in Australia. “We found out it can be done halachically and practically,” Mr Goldberger said. But the only donkey breeder they could find was in Canberra, more than 600km away. There, a female donkey who had never been pregnant or miscarried was selected and mated with a male.

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The men waited anxiously for news from the donkey farm. Then on March 12 they received a bittersweet phone call from the breeder: the donkey had given birth … to a female. The ceremony was off. “We decided we wanted to keep going and started looking for a new maiden donkey to start the whole process over again,” Mr Goldberger said.

And then came the twist. “Within a few days the breeder called back, and said, ‘I made a mistake, it’s a male’.”

Adass Chief Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Beck suggested a DNA test to double check the maternity of the baby donkey. Because its hair was too thin, the first two tests were inconclusive. But the third test was positive. “We were thrilled,” Mr Goldberger said.

The Adass community — a non-Zionist, tightly-knit cluster of about 200 families in Melbourne — threw a simchah, with guest of honour Federal MP Michael Danby.

After several blessings, the sheep was handed over to the cohen.

His big moment over, the future looks bright for the donkey, newly named Petter, and his mum, Tip Top. They are living happily on a farm outside Melbourne.

Things did not go so well for the unnamed sheep. It was slaughtered, and its meat distributed to needy families, apart from the cheeks, one of its legs and stomach, which were given to the cohen as tradition demands.

Its unique role will never be forgotten nonetheless. A cushion is being made from its skin to be used at circumcision ceremonies in the Adass community.



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Read Comments (21)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 08, 2009 at 12:55 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

Boruch Hashem! This is an excellent article! Thank you VIN news! The perseverance and energy of these two great chasidim helped bring about a very rare and wonderful mitzvah and a kiddush Hashem!

2

 May 08, 2009 at 12:51 PM Gerald Besvor,MA Says:

Cute!
Nice achdus! Seems many different people get on in Melbourne.I didn't make out many members of chabad though, maybe they live in a different part of town?
Millhos, you are from Australia, no?

3

 May 08, 2009 at 01:19 PM Jack Says:

No, Chabad lives within a mile of Adas community. But since it was not a chabad initiative a there was little or no motivation for them to get involved. You slef promote that you are G-d's gift to humanity if you allow the Adas community to act in a more pious manner.

4

 May 08, 2009 at 02:15 PM chosid Says:

Reply to #3  
Jack Says:

No, Chabad lives within a mile of Adas community. But since it was not a chabad initiative a there was little or no motivation for them to get involved. You slef promote that you are G-d's gift to humanity if you allow the Adas community to act in a more pious manner.

Why would you say that? What positive motivation could you possibly have had?

5

 May 08, 2009 at 02:07 PM Motzeh Shem Ra Says:

If you look closely you will see Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner the son of Rabbi Yitzchok Groner o.b.m. from Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Yurkowitz who heads Chabad of Malvern is shown at the end of the clip as well.

6

 May 08, 2009 at 02:59 PM Anonymous Says:

There were quite a few chabad members at the event. I brought my children along with my friends who brought their children as this is almost a once in a lifetime occurence. Addass organised the event so i guess this is why they are featured on the video.
Of all communities in the world, melbourne is a lesson inachdus, all of the communities have their own schools yeshivas and kashrus and yet they are friendly with each other, and respect each other as a community.

7

 May 08, 2009 at 02:44 PM Anonymous Says:

and this ceremony is called what---Mishegoss?

8

 May 08, 2009 at 04:25 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

Did the cohen have a DNA test too, to make sure that he really is a cohen?

9

 May 08, 2009 at 03:34 PM RAS Says:

Shmati: It is a Bigger Deal To Be" PAtir Yourself from chumrious then to do Peter Chamor VIDUK

10

 May 08, 2009 at 03:11 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #2  
Gerald Besvor,MA Says:

Cute!
Nice achdus! Seems many different people get on in Melbourne.I didn't make out many members of chabad though, maybe they live in a different part of town?
Millhos, you are from Australia, no?

I'm not responsible for what you could make out. There were plenty of Lubavs there. But in general, what mitzvah is there in coming and watching? The ones who did the pidyon had a mitzvah, but the spectators only came to rubberneck. Most people I know didn't go, because they had better things to do with the time. They don't go to every kevias mezuzah in the community either, or to watch every time someone davens.

11

 May 08, 2009 at 02:12 PM PMO Says:

This is great. What a unique way to invigorate people. What a great way to bring some positive attention to the community in a really unique and interesting way. On top of that, they used the sheep to feed needy families. Mitzvoh on top of mitzvoh... what a GENUINE kiddush H".

We need more stories like this. I'm getting so tired of the stories of yidden engaging in acts of stupidity.

12

 May 08, 2009 at 04:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Donkeys in costumes - that is not a mishegoss. It is a reason to celebrate something rare.

13

 May 09, 2009 at 11:47 PM Anonymous Says:

did the donkey belong to the jew? b/c if not there is nothing to it! and acutually in the past, yidden specifically sold the donkey to avoid this!

14

 May 09, 2009 at 11:27 PM Chosid Down Under Says:

It was a beutiful simcha and a real kiddush Hashem with Rabbonim and yidden from all communities participating.
But you wouldn't expect any less from these 2 special chassidiom. Reb Berl Goldberger is a mayased and Askan for the local kollel, Kollel Beis Yosef while Reb Benyomin Friedman is a Meyased and leading member of Hazola Melbourne. The 2 chaverim are learning together each morning well before 5am. To list all their chassodim etc. could fill pages.
May they and their families just make simchos and have only nachas.

One of the many 'chassidim' of these 2 special people!!

15

 May 09, 2009 at 10:34 PM Crazy Says:

This is crazy. Only could happen in Australia.

People wishing each other Mazel Tov?!?

16

 May 10, 2009 at 12:42 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #15  
Crazy Says:

This is crazy. Only could happen in Australia.

People wishing each other Mazel Tov?!?

It happens everywhere there are yidden. Don't you wish people mazel tov when they are able to do a mitzvah, such as a pidyon haben or a bris?

17

 May 10, 2009 at 12:41 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

did the donkey belong to the jew? b/c if not there is nothing to it! and acutually in the past, yidden specifically sold the donkey to avoid this!

No, nobody ever sold donkeys to avoid this. Why would yidden avoid a mitzvah????

You've got it mixed up with beheima hamevakeres, which is a whole different story.

18

 May 10, 2009 at 03:32 AM Golda Says:

I heard of a very famous Tax expert who is a Viznitzer Chosid who was an adviser to the President of Australia on Tax matters. His name is Berl Goldberger but known as Mr Andrew Goldberger. By any chance is this the same person, as my brother learnt with him in the Wiznitzer Yeshiva in Bnei Brak!

19

 May 10, 2009 at 10:36 AM szh Says:

Same person (except that there is no president in Australia).

20

 May 10, 2009 at 10:42 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #18  
Golda Says:

I heard of a very famous Tax expert who is a Viznitzer Chosid who was an adviser to the President of Australia on Tax matters. His name is Berl Goldberger but known as Mr Andrew Goldberger. By any chance is this the same person, as my brother learnt with him in the Wiznitzer Yeshiva in Bnei Brak!

Yes, that's the one. The other partner in the donkey was Yumi Friedman, who is a fishmonger.

21

 Jun 10, 2009 at 06:49 PM Rueven Says:

I was born and raised in Melbourne, I live in New York, it brings me great joy to hear of this. I lived on Reb Shlomo's Moshav, (Modi'im, near Lod), in 1983 - 4, some Chasidim paid the Moshav to keep four Donkeys so they could perform this rare Mitzvah. I do have my own problems but Judaism in Australia is special.

22

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