- Question: [Thursday, 12th Nissan, 5781]
Rabbi, I am a firstborn to both my father and mother but was born through C-section. Am I required to fast or hear a Siyum?
While this matter is debated amongst the Poskim, practically, you are not required to fast, although it is suggested for you to join a Siyum anyways in order to do according to all opinions, and if you cannot do so then you should give some money to charity to redeem your fast according to the stringent opinion.
Explanation: It is clear from the Poskim, and especially from the wording of Admur, that only one who is defined as a halachic firstborn either regarding the laws of Pidyon Haben or the laws of inheritance is required to fast. Now, one who was born through C-section is not considered a firstborn neither regarding the laws of inheritance nor regarding the laws of Pidyon Haben, whether this was a firstborn for both parents or a firstborn for only one of the parents. Thus, the law should be that one born through C-section is exempt from fasting the fast of the firstborn. However, the pushback against this, as suggested in some Poskim, is the fact that we nonetheless require firstborn Levites and Kohanim to fast if they are the first child of the mother, even if they are not a firstborn for inheritance, and are also exempt from needing Pidyon Haben due to their Levite status, as their exemption is simply due to a scriptural deduction, and not due to them being not considered a true firstborn. Accordingly, perhaps here as well one can argue that since the exemption of a C-section baby from being a halachic firstborn is due to scriptural deduction, in truth he still retains the status of a firstborn and therefore must fast. Practically, however, this does not seem to be the implication of Admur, and we cannot compare this case to the ruling by a Levite in which the form of birth is the same as that of any firstborn, as opposed to here in which the form of birth itself is different. This is in addition to the fact that some Poskim rule that in a time of need one may redeem the fast of the firstborn with charity, and some even rule that it is even initially permitted to snack on this day. Thus, taking into account all the above, we concluded that he is not required to fast although should try to cover his bases by hearing a Siyum or giving his money to charity.
Sources: See Admur 470:1-3; Michaber Y.D. 305:24 [regarding Pidyon Haben]; C.M. 277:7 [regarding inheritance]; Chok Yaakov 470:2 [leaves in question]; Divrei Shaul Y.D. 305:5 [rules that must fast]; Kaf Hachaim 470:3 [concludes that since is doubt no need to fast]; Mishneh Halachos 11:370 [brings both sides of argument]; Nishmas Avraham Y.D. 305:5 in name of Rav SZ”A; Piskeiy Teshuvos 470:3