The Jewish Eye
Chacham Tzvi: Can Bais Din Force a Father To Redeem His Firstborn Son?
Chazal teach us that if someone refuses to do a Mitzvas Aseh the Bais Din will force him to do so and continue to force him until his soul departs. However the Chut Hashani says that the Mitzvah of Pidyon Haben is an exception because the Halachah states that if the father fails to redeem his son, the son would be obligated to redeem himself. Since the Torah gives the father this ‘out' the Bais Din would not force the father to do the Mitzvah.
The Chacham Tzvi disagrees with the Chut Hashani. The Gemarah says that according to R. Yehudah if a person does not have money for the Pidyon Haben the money would be collected from his property that had been previously sold. If the Bais Din could force the buyers of his property to pay the Kohen the money for the Pidyon Haben certainly they could force the father himself to pay the money he owes to the Kohen.
The Chacham Tzvi says that the Rashbah clearly states that that a recalcitrant father would be forced to pay the money of the Pidyon to the Kohen. The only exception is in a circumstance that the son is already a Gadol and has his own means to pay for his own Pidyon. On such a case the father would not be forced by Bais Din to pay, in all other cases however the father would be forced.
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