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Silver Tray, Jewelry, Garlic and Sugar at a Pidyon Haben


Rabbi David Sperling

Shevat 10, 5778
Hi, I am looking to find the source of the Minhag to bring a baby boy to his Pidyon on a silver tray adorned with jewelry, garlic, and sugar. Is this a Segulah? Is this a Minhag? what is the purpose and source?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The practice of putting sugar and garlic, as well as adorning the baby with jewelry and a silver tray at a Pidyon haBen is a custom, and certainly not an obligation. The sugar and garlic is usually explained as a means to share the festive meal of the Pidyon with as many people as possible. There are sources that explain that eating at such a meal is equal to fasting 84 fast days (!). As such, many people will want to take part in such a meal. The way we can include them is by sending them some of the meal. Sugar and garlic have the special quality that they both last a long time (and so can be sent afar from the meal), and a small amount of them can be put into other foods and thus go a long way in being eaten by many people. Also, sugar and garlic start with the letters Samech and Shin in hebrew, which spell out the word Shas – meaning the Six Orders of the Oral Torah. This is a good omen for the baby, that he will grow up to learn a lot of Torah. Some also explain that the sugar is symbolize a sweet life, and garlic as a sign of fruitfulness (the Talmud states that eating garlic increases ones fruitfullness in having children – a fact supported by modern reaserch). The custom of the silver tray is in order to do the mitzvah in a most beautiful way – to show honor to the mitzvah. The jewelry might be for the same reason, and also because the Jewish people took their jewelry off and gave it to build the golden calf, we try to make up for that sin by taking off out jewelry and placing it on the baby to make the mitzvah beautiful. May you have many blessings.
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