In recognition of the rescue of the Israelite firstborn males from the 10th plague while the Egyptian firstborn males died, a firstborn male of a mother or a father observes [the] Fast of the Firstborn - most years on the eve of Pesah. But this year that day is Shabbat, so the fast moves to Thursday. We do not fast on Shabbat (except on Yom Kippur), nor do we create an intrusion into the beginning of Shabbat by moving the fast to Friday.
If the firstborn male is a minor, the father fasts in his place. However, if the father is also a firstborn, the mother fasts in the child’s place.
Fast of the Firstborn is an individual fast. Unlike a communal fast, it does not introduce public liturgical changes or a special Torah reading.
If possible, hold a siyyum (completion of study of a tractate of rabbinic literature) to exempt those attending from the obligation to fast.
- Conduct the siyyum after Shaḥarit.
- Conclude the siyyum with the special prayers and expanded kaddish d'rabbanan for this occasion. Texts can be found at the end of a tractate in many editions of the Talmud.
- Hold a se’udat mitsvah (festive meal celebrating the performance of a mitsvah , in this case, the siyyum).
As participants in the siyyum, all firstborns present are permitted to eat at the festive meal and during the rest of the day as well.
This year, Rabbi Adam Kligfeld of Temple Beth Am will be hosting a virtual siyyum on Thursday, March 25 at 7:30 AM, and all are welcome to participate.