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The Smell of Chickens

September 17, 2010 – 11:32 am178 Comments

Image source: HolyHeretics.blogspot.com

By David Werdiger

To paraphrase Kilgore in the epic war film Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of chickens in the morning”. I don’t. I actually can’t stand the smell. It’s 5am, and I have just performed the pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kaporas. Not the sanitized version with a bag of coins that go to charity. Rather, a dawn trip in suburban Melbourne, with a buzz of people, chickens, and unpleasantness almost anywhere you step foot.

Kaporas done this way is probably one of my favourite Jewish rituals.

It is dark and cold. The smell is pervasive. The chickens are clucking loudly. Fortunately, most people know how to hold them correctly. Families are clustered together, often with the father doing the honours on behalf of his children who wouldn’t dare touch a live chicken. My son, now taller than me, insists that I hold the chicken for him. Who’s the real chicken? But then I make him hold it while I do kaporas for myself.

Then comes the most intense part: We stand in line, chickens in hand, waiting for them to be slaughtered. We are inside a huge poultry factory, the start of the journey that results in “chicken tonight” at someone’s dinner table. My turn comes, and I hand the chicken to the shochet. He takes it, then quickly and deftly, as he has done many thousands of times, slices it through the neck, and spills some of its blood on the ground, before handing it off to an assistant, who places it into the huge machinery that will “process” it.

For just a few seconds, I am directly faced with death. A death that, minutes before, I declared should happen to this chicken instead of to me. Thoughts rush through my head about what I have done in the past year that may be deserving of such a fate. The experience ignites the spark of teshuvah, of repentance.

As the dead chickens move past in a huge conveyer machine thing, I am reminded of the liturgy of Unesaneh Tokef, where the process of our annual judgment is compared to a flock being counted off by their shepherd. Who will live, and who will die, decides God. The chickens all die; our prayer and hope is that we all live.

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  • Malki Rose says:

    There’s a teensy weensy parallel in your Kilgore reference (including his name!), the irony of which I hope is not lost here.

    Mr Duval’s affection for morning Napalm is symptomatic of his feeling of American superiority over his lesser Vietnamese victims, whose lives are deemed less valuable, and a small sacrifice for the greater good of the worthy American cause. He thinks himself god-like, hovering above in his ubiquitous UH-1 Iroquois Helicopter, deciding who lives and who dies, with a broad sickening grin of morbid enjoyment with every fiery explosion resulting in a landscape of scattered Vietnamese corpses.

    Ok fine, maybe not so teensy.

    Just a thought.

    (p.s. watch out for torch-wielding animal-lib’niks.)

  • Funnily enough, David, I actually said that very line to someone this morning at kapores. She is frum from birth and probably never saw that movie so she didn’t get the allusion.

    Malki, I don’t get your point. Surely you are not making a parallel between faithful G-d loving Jews doing the beautiful mitzvah of kapores with a the movie’s characterization of a homicidal military maniac? If so, that could be seen as insulting.

  • Malki,

    Add to that the metaphor for marching out with the Lulav (which resembles a weapon) as a symbol of our “victory” during RH-YK.

    And don’t get me started on the punishment meted out to serpent “and dust shall you eat”. Is it such a punishment to have food wherever you go?

    As an aside, last night I heard a fantastic radio program about the “rescue” of 52,000 battery chickens that were too old to keep producing eggs. Read it here.

  • Michael says:

    Nice poisoning the well! I think you’d find most reasonable people would be very uncomfortable, not just those you personally deem to be animal lib extremists. In most cases it probably doesn’t make the chicken’s life any more unpleasant but there are definitely cases of cruelty which seems completely unnecessary even from a religious perspective.

  • Michael says:

    I don’t think much was meant in the parallel about Kilgore’s character beyond paradoxically enjoying something that would generally be considered unpleasant.

  • Torah is against all forms of cruelty to animals.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I think they are bit clucky. (I hear they’ve been named Schnitzel and Schwarma)
    Hey, this way the chickens live another 3 months instead of 2, and someone else can play god.
    Luckily “Charlie dont surf”.

    p.s. The Nachash does do quite well out of it all, what between his starring role in Bereishit , his tremendous mystical power (check out http://www.g-dcast.com/chukat), and of course, what a blessing, it hardly seems fair (given the focal point of our calendar rituals) you’d think the Jew would have been the one to evolve such a “eat as you go” physical structure. (And to quote Homer, “And here I am using a knife and fork like a sucker.)

  • Malki Rose says:

    Michael, do you remember the way Kapores used to be run at Yeshiva? Back in the day?

  • Michael says:

    Malki, perhaps seeing your comment through the internet is throwing my sarcasm detectors off kilter — or maybe I’m just having a dim day. Either way: huh?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Probably what it is. (the post beginning “LMTO” was directed at David, in any case)
    Fear not. Its all intended somewhere between jest, irony, cruelty, spiritual loftiness and metaphor.
    Meh, pick one, your choice.

    Regarding the Kapores of olden times (pre-Brooklyn), THAT was where real cruelty could be found. I was there the night the RSPCA came in with their video camera’s after an empassioned plea/tip off to “please stop the madness/cruelty” from someone within our own midst.

    I have several enormous problems with Kapores as a concept, mostly to do with its origin in halacha and ancient akkadian and pro-canaanite traditions, but my initial remark, much like David’s piece, was as you correctly (mostly) pointed out was intended to reflect on the glaring unpleasantness of the whole thing. I doubt that many are able to walk away from such a dark and unnerving “mitzva” feeling bright, chirpy (apologies to the chooks), liberated and full of life.

  • Michael says:

    Ah, I see. Well I think most religious practices tend to get less cruel over time as people’s sensibilities have shifted. The cruelest practice in Judaism I know of are the halachot of shutting up animals in a cage and letting them starve to death*. Somehow I don’t think something like this would pass muster amongst most Orthodox Jews, perhaps a few of the most RW groups but even that’s doubtful.

    In case you haven’t seen it you might be interested in this post on kaparot: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-i-wont-be-waving-chicken-over-my.html

    *I think it’s usually animals who have been allocated to a sacrifice but went missing and another animal was sacrificed and then the original was found and it can no longer be put to any use etc.)

  • Malki Rose says:

    No, in fact I hadnt seen that, thanks for posting. He lists pretty much verbatim my issue with Kapores. The two most glaring ones being its pagan origin and the Halachic issue of partaking in Korban, which is Assur, amongst other things about this practice which are Assur… or dangerously close to it.

    (side point: I do not agree with one of his reasons not to do it, “that it looks pagan to non-jews and can cause a chilul hashem”, because on that basis we could throw out any Jewish practice, since so many appear paganistic on the surface. And thats just silly, yet somewhat typical and could serve to explain why so many people do things or don’t do things on the basis of “what everyone else might think”. )

    Gedolim knew full well that it was an extremely misguided “mitzva” and very problematic on many different levels.

    At the time that the RSPCA got involved in Yeshivah’s Annual Chicken Twirl-off, it was certainly a big joke to many people, and the photographs published in the Animal Liberation magazines certainly demonstrated a Chilul Hashem of epic proportions.

  • Malki Rose says:

    … personally, I feel the act itself, of asking another creature to die in one’s stead, reeks of a person too chicken (pardon the pun) to wear the consequences of his own sins.

    Why on earth should anyone die instead of you? If you did something wrong either remedy it by doing right in future or pay the price.

    I call it “Chickening out of doing REAL Teshuvah”.

    (That being said, I am sure some people do Kapores and yet do seek to do real Teshuvah. Although I do find this notion troubling.)

    Its not dissimilar to the Church’s “selling of absolutions”.

  • The origins of kapores are not pagan. The influence of Kabbalah gave the custom much of its mystical aura. There is some opinion that kapores is related to the use of a scapegoat in Temple times on which the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) placed the sins of the Children of Israel before sending the goat out to its death.

    The reality is that there is no magic in kapores which transfers a person’s sins to the chicken. Even in the days of the Temple, sins were not magically transferred to an animal. The entire purpose of kapores is to create an experience that inspires a person to teshuvah , that is to return to G-d and to repent. All the sacrifices — and chickens — in the world will not result in forgiveness, unless teshuvah takes place.

    Kapores is not asking a chicken to die in pne’s stead. The chickens used for kapores are set to be slaughtered, kashered, and eaten in any case. Moreover, kapores is not meant to be a substitute for fixing oneself. Like every mitzvah in the Torah, it not only hs deep symbolic meaning, but it also has an actual metaphysical effect on the world by elevating sparks of holiness.

    I forget which prophet (was it Shlomo HaMelech? anyone know?) but one of them knew the language of the animals. Some animals told him how ecstatic they were to be ritually slaughtered and eaten by Jews because this was the highest level of serving G-d they could reach and they understood this was what they were created for.

  • kalmangradman says:

    great article david,


  • Sam says:

    Mrs S Silcove
    This excerpt from your last post absolutely takes the cake!

    “I forget which prophet (was it Shlomo HaMelech? anyone know?) but one of them knew the language of the animals. Some animals told him how ecstatic they were to be ritually slaughtered and eaten by Jews because this was the highest level of serving G-d they could reach and they understood this was what they were created for.”

    Many of your comments have been a bit hard to swallow even for a committed Jew such as :

    “We are chosen and what’s more, the entire world knows this to be true, and always have, whether they admit it or not”.

    Do you know that you are a rather good comedienne as well as the other qualities you are well known for.

    But seriously, if my Rabbi delivered this sort of stuff on his Rosh Hashanah drosha I would have to seriously considering leaving the congregation.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    So was it a special Jewish holiday when Israel carpet bombed Gaza (Cast Lead) including the Palestinian chicken farms, killing many thousands of chickens?

  • Malki Rose says:

    No, it wasnt.

  • Michael says:

    Malki, in terms of it appearing as a pagan practice I think the poster made it clear that this obviously wouldn’t apply to a Torah commandment but for something that is merely a custom without much halachic support it would be of consideration.

    An earlier post on the same blog discusses how many rabbis have tried to ban this over the centuries but without much success (congregants didn’t listen). However apparently there might be a potential halachic reason for a ban in that you’re not allowed to look for a specific-coloured rooster since it resembles a pagan practice, but I think for kapparot it’s allowed because the chicken is already in your possession and will be slaughtered anyway. In post-shtetl times though that last part wouldn’t apply so there might even be a rabbinic reason for a ban.

  • Sam, often people find thins they do not understand as funny. Excuse me for not being clearer in my statements.

    King Solomon, or Shlomo HaMelech, is said to have been the wisest of all people. Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism, teaches that everything in Creation sings Hashem’s praises. Animals have a language and they ‘speak’, and Shlomo HaMelech knew that language. The story is told that (I heard this from a Chassidic Rabbi) that a cow once told Shlomo HaMelech that for it to be ritually slaughtered and eaten by Jews made it ecstatically happy because it was fulfilling a higher purpose.

    The other point you didn’t understand (and you took my quote out of context) was one I wrote in a rush without much thought about a deep mystical idea. I refer you to an interesting article about thetopic here: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2902/jewish/What-Is-the-Cause-of-Antisemitism.htm
    The point about I tried to make but did it badly was this: The world always understood that the Jews were different. On a deeply subconscious level, deep in their souls, there is the knowledge of the gentiles that the Jews are somehow ‘chosen’. While they may not understand and cannot articulate this knowledge, it is a feeling that we have been separated or set apart from all the other nations. This knowledge has a mystical explanation as to its source which has to do with the nature of the collective non-Jewish soul and unconscious and how they differ from the collective Jewish soul. A blog is not really conducive for discussion of lofty and sublime mystical/spiritual matters.

  • Sometimes people on the left, or those who criticize Torah practices, hold amazingly contradictory views that make me question their morality and their true motives. For instance, most of the same people who are animal activists who are upset over kapores, are also pro-abortion. They will get all upset and morally indignant about Jews swinging a chicken that is going to be slaughtered and eaten anyway, but are silent and even supportive while human babies are being slaughtered by the thousands on a daily basis. Seems that they care more about animals than people. Seems they put a higher value on animal life than human life.

    I am also intrigued how certain critics of the practices of Torah Judaism invoke halachic arguments when it buttresses their point of view but completely discard halacha in most other situations and do not consider it to be binding upon them as Jewish people in their daily lives. And then they have the chutzpah to call frum people hypocrites! It is as if they see halacha as a smorgasbord that they have a right to pick and choose from. Either a Jew accepts halacha as obligatory or he/she doesn’t. One cannot use halachic arguments only when it suits their personal emotional purposes or when it provides a convenient axe to grind against ‘the Orthodox’. It is intellectually dishonest and reveals a lack of core principles.

  • Tom says:

    Apparently hitler was an activist for the protection of animals……

  • And fairly recently, as you my recall, PETA put out literature that compared victimised animals to Holocaust victims.

  • Tom says:

    Some of those who did the comparison are Jewish. The nazis experimented on our grandparents ecause they had banned them on animals. Many of these campaigners are either very sick or …..

    Like by the nazis, the banning of Shechita by them is high priority.

  • Shechita has been banned in some European countries and it is presently under threat here too.

  • Foob says:

    According to Wikipedia, Shechita has been banned in Sweden, Norway and Iceland since the 1920’s. Hardly a anti-semitic pinko-commie movement. And the recent legislation introduced by the Communist Rudd/Gillard government must have escaped my attention. Although Shecita has been banned in New Zealand. By a centre-right government. Sometimes the facts don’t fit the conspiracies, Shoshanna.

  • I never posited there was a conspiracy Foob, stop putting words in my mouth.

    You apparantly don’t seem to think it is a big deal that religious Jews in those countries have been denied their right to their religious freedoms.

    I venture to guess that many lefty Jews who cry out against Islamaphobia are not as concerned when the rights of their religious brethren are trampled on.

    Before you make assertions it is a good idea to have some facts first. And it is a fact that shechita has been New Zealand, and that the animal rights activists are making alot of noise to try to ban shechita here too.

  • I meant to write shechita has been BANNED in New Zealand

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Ah yes Tom Hitler was known as a vegetarian so you could say he was an animal activist from way back. But apparently he put us on a lower level than animals, unless of course his vegetarianism was for ‘health reasons.’
    Would you be quite so vocal if human babies were swung over head and used for target practice like Hitler’s Nazis did in Europe? Then there is the issue of abortion that Shoshanna has raised. A lot of ‘animal activists’ are Pro Choice and I would be quite uncomfortable with that too.

  • Foob says:

    Sure Shoshanna. No argument with me about those European countries. It’s just not a recent development. It’s been like that for nearly a century, so I’m not sure it is symptomatic of anything at all. And it’s hardly a pan-European movement. No major European powers there. Not sure if there are any Jews in Iceland at all, although this link was very interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Iceland.

    I mentioned the NZ thing before. I also said it’s a conservative government who’ve implemented this there.

  • Foob, your straw dog argument is irrelevant. Your point is exactly what, Foob? That it is ok to trample on the religious rights of Jews because it’s not recent and it was done by some conservative governments?
    I did not say this banning shechita was an issue of being lefty or righty- you did. All I brought out is the hypocrisy of those on the left who march and protest for the rights of everyone and sundry yet, are totally absent when the religious rights of Jews are restricted.

  • frosh says:

    Hitler’s vegetarianism is questionable, and has been described as a misconception, and even a myth. It seems the reality was that he perhaps lowered his meat intake, but was not a vegetarian in the contemporary sense of the word. For a balanced assessment of the matter, see this link

    However, I fail to see the relevance to the discussion. Perhaps Hitler also liked ice-cream? Hitler, I assume, was an air breather. Well, I like ice-cream, and I breathe air. What’s the point? There isn’t any.

    Rav Kook and (more locally) Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple have been proponents of a vegetarian diet and concern for animal welfare. I think what esteemed Rabbis and Jewish thinkers have had to say on a topic is of infinitely more importance than the position of a pschotic anti-Semitic mass-murderer.

    As for kapaoras, while I personally would not partake in it for a number of reasons, what happens to chickens in the regular course of the meat and egg industry is far worse than anything that happens during kaporas.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Relevance to the discussion is precisely what you have said and I was not the one to bring it up first. I am also aware of the article. A bit like treading air here to go there.
    I have to agree that what happens to chickens and to other animals in the meat and egg industry is far worse than anything during kaporos. De-beaking, for example, and being kept in small cages. The Europeans force fed geese to make pate. That is extended torture.

  • Foob says:

    Actually. Shoshanna, my aim is to show you cases where the world is not as simple and easy to understand as you seem to think it is. I haven’t really got any argument, other than to undermine your constant harking to left=bad, self hating Jews, right=good and Jew friendly, which is tiring and boring. The world is difficult to navigate sometimes if you are not a religious and/or political fundamentalist. I see no recognition of this at all by you, just a few repetitive refrains, half remembered gossip, and folksy myths.

  • Well, you haven’t succeeded Foob, I mean trying to turn me into a sophisticate like you. :^) As a matter of fact, you haven’t really addressed a single point I raised. So how does your avoiding the issues at hand educate me?

  • Foob says:

    Um…because you actually haven;t raised any points at all Shoshanna.

  • I also get tired, of all my precious fellow misguided Yidden who worship at the altar of political correctness, their mantras are pretty predictable and always hypocritical, suicidal, and anti-Jewish, especially religious ones. YAWN YAWN. Why can’t they address any of the contradictions that are so blatant? They are like brainwashed zombies or more like sheep bleeting out the same tune while they follow their leaders into oblivion.

    And if you find me so boring then don’t read my comments.

    By the way, Hitler, yamach shemo. was a vegetarian, and it is relevant because it highlights how a person can value animals while devaluing human beings. That is the obvious point.

    And how ’bout the folksy myths of global warming or evolution? We could point to hundreds of folksy myths held with a religious fervor, with a fundamentalist passion of the absolute believers, by the oh so sophisticated educated classes.

  • Foob says:

    The folksy myth of evolution?! I get it – you’re actually an undercover leftist, with the laudable intent of trying to discredit Chabad! I think you’ve blown your cover now.

  • You think Torah believing Jews buy Darwinian evolution? Think again. You need to get an education. It’s no secret at all and there is no cover to blow. There are literally thousands of books written about the Torah debunking of that theory.Where have you been? Under the proverbial rock, maybe?

    One book that comes to mind written by famous scientist Herman Branover is called Mind Over Matter and it details the Rebbe’s views on all areas of science.

    Or read this letter from the Rebbe:

  • Foob says:

    Shoshanna, you and I will never, ever share any beliefs, and I think that this is becoming more and more pointless and further and further away from the original topic. Both of our faults. Thus, I’m ducking out at this point.

  • Michael says:

    Ok and now back to kapparot…!

    Frosh, you said “As for kapaoras, while I personally would not partake in it for a number of reasons, what happens to chickens in the regular course of the meat and egg industry is far worse than anything that happens during kaporas.”

    I don’t see how that’s relevant — surely you didn’t mean that as an argument that kapparot are therefore ok? Of course if someone’s against kaparot and are fine with the meat and egg industry then their animal welfare/animal rights are inconsistent but I doubt such a person exists. Unless you mean that most chickens used for kapparot are barn raised or free range?

  • frosh says:


    I made no argument in favour of kapparot, and in fact said that I would not partake in it.

    I merely implied that any animal welfare protest againsy kapparot is misdirected because the poor treatment of the animals in the enormous meat and egg industry is where the real problem lies.

    Furthermore, if all chickens in the meat and egg industry had to be genuinely free range, then kaparos would be using free range chickens.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    It is interesting reading these posts and gives an insight into just how ignorant some people are on certain religious issues.
    Trouble is people who have studied religious texts know far more about different perspectives on topics than some of the one eyed lefties getting riled up here.
    For example:
    Shoshanna, you and I will never, ever share any beliefs, and I think that this is becoming more and more pointless and further and further away from the original topic. Both of our faults. Thus, I’m ducking out at this point.
    Foob has effectively closed off all avenues of discussion because he or she is mortally afraid that their non religious stance will be blasted away and good heavens, they might actually find common ground with Shoshanna or another religious person and we must NOT have that if we are to preserve our status quo and remain non religious or an atheist or what ever. We just pretend that G-D does not exist and it is the way most unpleasant truths and even pleasant truths are dealt with by those who want to be free of all spiritual aspects in their lives. There fore it is part of the natural course of things to make fun and to deride or denigrate religious practices.

  • Michael says:

    Ilana — does this mean you will never consider a discussion with someone pointless no matter what views they hold?

    Frosh — if you don’t mind answering, why do you not partake in it? I don’t think it’s misdirected if it’s seen as cruelty for the sake of cruelty — otherwise any other form of animal welfare campaigning can be considered pointless because it’s not about farm animals. Eg: a campaign to end the practice of dancing bears would also be seen as misdirected because there are only a few thousand bears whilst the number of chickens in factory farms runs in the billions.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    So long as, Michael, two people or more can communicate in a dignified manner and agree to disagree on a few points in a civilised exchange I see no reason why I should be arrogant enough to discount one of G-d’s beings as unworthy of my time in an exchange of ideas.
    Therein probably lies a fundamental difference between you and I. I possibly in error or delusion you may well say, consider myself and educator and therefore every person is worthwhile and I listen to people and offer my opinion if I can see that it might be of some use to the person concerned. If not I keep my peace. I am also a very curious person and like to know what goes on in the heads of others even if I radically disagree with them.
    I have sat and had a conversation of sorts with people like an ex (?) terrorist (if there is such a thing as a ex terrorist) in Israel because I was interested to see how that person thinks and I wanted to gain a better understanding of who they think. I also wanted to observe him and that meant I did not say very much of what I felt and believed because if I had done so, this person might not have been so open because he would have seen that I was not as sympathetic to him as he assumed I was.

  • Tom says:

    I Leeds writes to me “Would you be so vocal if human babies were swung overhead……….

    What’s your point?

  • Michael says:

    There are two different cases. Say someone showed up in these comments and was completely convinced that the whole of human history was essentially one big Jewish conspiracy full of Zionist plots etc. The lack of evidence for the conspiracy would also to them indicate how successful the conspiracy is.

    Now, you might talk to them as a way of trying to find out what they think — however I don’t think you’d consider it productive to try have a discussion with them for other purposes (eg. to somehow convince them their delusion is false). I believe that’s what Foob was referring to and I think you and I would both agree with him, just for different cases. Our conversation-stoppers might be different but at some point all of us would say there’s no point in continuing other than that of morbid curiosity. Which might not even come up if you already know a lot about how (in this case) believers-in-the-grand-Zionist-conspiracy think.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Michael I would try my darn est to change such a person’s view of the world and think perhaps that I was there having that conversation for a reason.
    If we have perfect trust in Hashem’s ratzion for us then it is obvious why we are having a conversation with such a person. We need to try and some how impact on him or her.
    Look I have had conversations at great length with people I consider quite crazy and possibly certifiable, but I recognise and honour their raison d’etre, even though I might not enjoy such conversations, they are for a purpose ultimately.
    The only time I lose patience is with people who are lying to me and trying to get me to do work for them for nothing or they have ulterior motives or think I have. Then I consider a swift conclusion to the conversations are in order.

  • I enjoy having discussions and debated with people I do not agree with on everything because it’s challenging. It forces me to re-think my views and reevaluate. It’s all part of the growth process, and while growth can sometimes make one feel uncomfortable, there is not real life without growth.

  • Eli says:

    I thought Shoshana finally said something I could agree with

    ” They are like brainwashed zombies or more like sheep bleating out the same tune while they follow their leaders into oblivion.”

    But then realized it wasn’t self analysis…sigh!

  • frosh says:


    I don’t partake in kaparos because it is not appeal to me theologically, it is not a custom or tradition I have grown up with, and I don’t eat chicken (I’m a pescetarian) or like to bother animals.

    As for those dancing bears, the cruelty they face in their lives is entirely based around them being dancing bears. However, the chickens who ‘experience’ kaparos, the primary cruelty they experience in their lives is a result of the meat and egg industry, not kaparos.

    Michael, I feel our conversation is moving in circles. Meeting adjourned!

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    You have really got to be careful Eli. The Talmud for centuries has encouraged debate and discussion on many relevant daily issues for Jewish communities. I think people who follow a secular lifestyle are often brainwashed into being so free they are enslaved by their desires and animal souls that they forget or suppress their spiritual side and deeper soul.

  • I was not brought up in a religious home, I went to university. I know firsthand how they brainwash students. If anyone doesn’t think academia has its own cultishness then you need to watch this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEvq4xIHmH4&feature=related

  • Tom says:

    I cannot say that all animal activists have another agenda. However, there are definitely individuals at these organisations who do, e.g. anti semitism agenda. And then there are anti semites who will join with these activists when it suits them.

  • Eli says:

    Illana, by the same token, many of those who lead an ultra orthodox life stifle debate and discussion as if there is only one “authentic” view. I have moved from the secular to the observant myself and find many also brainwashed into being so stringent and following the letter of the law rather than the spirit. They are in danger of being enslaved by dogma, deluding themselves that it is spiritual,and forgetting that the Jewish soul does not wear a black hat exclusively.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    My point is this, we need to place more concern on human children and what happens to them in the course of events of daily life. Yes the chickens should not suffer but neither should children and young people. We are all so concerned about the environment and animals that we forget that to make this a good world for the next generations we need to look after the generations we are raising to ensure they become good and responsible members of the community/

  • Malki Rose says:

    And in much the same way, some (not all) orthodox are equally brainwashed into the facile belief that everything which currently exists in orthodox Judaism today is entirely valid, beautiful and spiritually uplifting. They do not bother to question that perhaps there are some aspects of their practice, not their faith and not their Judaism itself, which need very much to be re-thought, rather than taken as gospel.

    The Rambam amongst many many other well respected poskim (also in the Shulchan Aruch the centrepoint of Halachic practice) was extremely clear on how pagan in origin Kapores was, and is not under any circumstances to be engaged in.

    The Arizal was the major proponent of Kapores.

    It is akin to Korban at the very best, and therefore entirely Assur, or entirely pagan at the very worst and obviously even more Assur.

    Most who still do it, do so either because of Minhag or because they are relatively new to Kabbalistic Judaism (either converts or Baalei teshuvah) and have not thought to do thorough research.

    (side point only: In both cases, neither are able to truly connect with any ‘mitzva’. Even in David W’s case, he makes clear that it is not a particularly enjoyable mitzvah to partake in. As a kid, all I could think about was not being pooped on, and 4 girls in my class and one of my sisters became vegetarians as a direct result of KRT, or ‘Kapores related trauma”.)

  • Sam says:

    Mrs S Silcove

    When you wrote:
    ” They are like brainwashed zombies or more like sheep bleeting out the same tune while they follow their leaders into oblivion”.

    I naturally like Eli, thought you were describing the basis of your faith.
    How do you explain some of your extreme beliefs, that you believe are beyond the understanding of some of us on this forum, and yet you actually believe that OTHERS have been brainwashed.
    Try tape recording some of your postings and replaying them back to your self the next day and try listen to what you are saying, critically. You don’t HAVE to believe everything you read. Also you don’t have to post every 30 minutes, as there is no time for you to re-read anything, and perhaps reconsider a few things.
    “Animals are in ecstacy as they are lined up to be slaughtered to feed mankind because they know they are about to serve G-d’s highest purpose”. That is still funny 2 days after I first read it. If I was to take it seriously, I would describe it as sick.
    If you read a little more you may find out that G-d’s original masterplan was for mankind to be provided with food on this earth without the need for any animals to die in the process.

    You display a hubris and an arrogance that are definitely not becoming of a “Mensch”.

  • Malki Rose says:

    ( “have the chickens stopped clucking yet Clarice!?” – ed.)

  • Baruch says:

    Eli, a lot of people when becoming religious, become more stringent than the ffb. Usually no one pressures them. They go from extreme to the opposite extreme, on their own. It seems to be a natural thing. There is a saying in yiddish “a gevorener iz mer vi a geborener”(someone who becomes is more than one who was born that way)

  • There will always be different opinions among Rabbonim. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was at least as great as the Rambam or even more so, wanted us to do kapores. I am certain that if he told us to do it then it isn’t pagan. He is good enough of a Torah authority for me.

  • Sam, thanks for the compliments.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    I agree but I think too that those people have forgotten the spirit of the law in adhering to the letter. Many years ago now, it was 1981 I was working in the Monash Student Book Co Op and I remember I was distinctly annoyed with this young man who was kipa wearing and the only observant member of his family up in Doncaster. Anyway he had had a car accident not long before Shabbes and had hobbled and walked several kilometers to his house and had not immediately gone to the doctor but waited until after Shabbes to get checked out.
    I was astounded by his foolishness. I had been doing my own reading in preparation for my application to a Beth Din in the future for an orthodox conversion and my reading about Shabbes observance had given me to understand that one keeps Shabbes and that it was allowable to break the laws of Shabbes to preserve life because Shabbes is about the preservation of life and I think that is from if a person is drowning and it is shabbes one should jump in and save him or her and you don’t say ‘Oh, it is Shabbes, Poor bugger, he’ll have to drown. I can’t save you until after Shabbes and you may have to wait until I have made havdala!’ Commonsense and pekua nefesh dictates that if you can swim and save the person you do so. Don’t jump in if you can’t swim. There is really no point in two people drowning for the price of one.
    But that unfortunately is how some people live their lives and they think they have to suffer in order to be good religious people. Simcha is what life is about and you can find simcha in very simple but beautiful things around us all the time. You just have to look. People are all the time trying to make big issues out of small things and small issues out of the really important things in life. In secular living these days, a lot of important things like modesty in dress, speech and behaviour have gone by the way side and it is sad. Manners and a pleasant and polite way of dealing with others is seen as old fashioned and old hat. Things like marriage and raising children the right way are also not given the weight they deserve in modern life and people’s lives are very unstable.
    But if you question the status quo people think you are being stuffy or prudish. Sometimes it is better to be so, than a slave to every new fad that comes onto the scene..
    We are getting away from the topic here which is chickens and kaporos. This year I used money but I have used chickens in the past and probably will do so again. There are far worst things that can happen to a chicken that is more painful and to be honest if I was a chicken and had the choice of a shochet schecting me or living my life in a cage that I could barely move in and being debeaked and fed hormones and made to lay three times a day, I think I’d rather be schected. At least it is over and done with quickly.

  • Baruch, I am glad not to be FFB as in Frum From Habit. Nothing wrong with being inspired and idealistic about spiritual matters. Better than being a shallow materialistic selfish person. I’m proud to be shtark and to have chayas in Yiddishkeit. And if the truth be known there are many people out there who would love to have something to believe in, who are feeling as if they are living empty lives without meaning and I feel sorry for them.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    I am sorry do you have a copy of G-D’s master plan? I thought it was the Torah and that distinctly sets out what animals we can and we can’t eat, I think in Ve ikra.
    Maybe some parsha study is going to be beneficial for your knowledge expansion. Or are you talking about Gan Eden. I am not sure what master plan you are talking about because that would mean we all have to be vegetarians or vegan even.

    If you read a little more you may find out that G-d’s original masterplan was for mankind to be provided with food on this earth without the need for any animals to die in the process.

  • Sam, you seem to be obsessed with me. You keep posting the ame things about me over and over again. Don’t have anything else on your mind, eh? Well, I’m flattered, but really, it isn’t nice

  • Akiva says:

    Not only this ‘ritual’ not in the Torah, nor the Talmud, but the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch were both vehemently against the practice, and that’s enough for me.

    That, as well as the fact that I’m a sane, educated and humane person, who doesn’t believe in magic, and who feels sick at the thought of these animals being mistreated in this frankly primitive and ignorant ceremony. I don’t worship idols either.

  • Yes, Ilana, that was the original masterplan but, it got derailed. For centuries it has been a mitzvah to eat meat. Man was made to have dominion over the earth and that includes the animals, not the other way around.

  • Tom says:

    Mrs SS. Writes: “The Lubavitcher Rebbe was at least as great as the Rambam, if not more so.”

    Geveret, how do you know this?

  • Miriam says:

    Shoshanna, if you have indeed been to university, you are a terrifying indictment of out tertiary education system. I’ve checked out your blog – horrors. What on earth did you study?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Shoshanna, you referred to it as “the beautiful mitzvah of kaparos”, is that right?

  • Every mitzvah is beautiful

  • Malki Rose says:

    No Shoshanna, even the Rebbe disagrees with this. Perhaps have a look at some more of his earlier work, and that of his predecessors.

    Did you ever have the pleasure of seeing him do Kaparos?

  • Malki, I lived in Crown Heights, we all did kapores with the Rebbe’s blessings, and if the Rebbe was against kapores none of us would have done it.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I understand, but I asked a) if you think its a “beautiful mitzvah” like you asserted in your first comment, and b) if you ever SAW the Rebbe do Kaparos.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Shosh… Hopefully he confines his ‘stalking attentions’ to this forum. Some guys just have this power thing where they do not like women disagreeing with them they want to control and dictate and the more you disagree with them they more they try to to get you convinced and they obsess about things you are saying because it is too ‘in their faces’.
    That is why when we do kaporos to make us understand who is really in control and under whose dominion we are.
    Some websites for research are


    And this one is really interesting, and I mean INTERESTING!! It also involves the custom of growing wheat on Rosh Hashana which I see at a friend’s house because she is of Egyptian origin and I am going to see this to her. WOW this is really interesting and it makes me look at this in a new light. You know that the the great Rav Rabbi Yosef Caro forbade it…..

  • Malki Rose says:

    I didnt mean the Rebbe spoke out against Kaparos, I meant that he and his predecessor’s disagreed with your assertion that “every mitzvah is beautiful”.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    I think your comment Miriam borders on the offensive in that it is making a personal attack. Deriding someone’s educational qualifications and insulting their intellect is pretty much borderline bullying.
    Attack the person’s actions and not the person or what they have done. What have you done lately that is so gracious and good? Do not sling off at others just because it makes you feel bigger and better. It is not becoming of you or of anyone for that matter.

  • Malki, are you in support of bullfighting? Why aren’t your protesting this ancient Spanish traditional sport? It’s so cruel, isn’t it? Or what about the illegal dog fights, or the Asians eating doggies, that’s right, cute little pups getting eaten right here in our city.

  • Miriam says:

    I consider the comments on this blog to be actions. I also consider Shoshanna’s own blog to be an action of hers. And I find them disgusting.

    And I don;t think that you have to be an anti-abortion, anti-bullfighting vegan to find kapores disgusting. It is, after all, a practice that happens in OUR community, whereas the others, not so much. so it is for us to be concerned about. The argument that if bad stuff happens everywhere else, who shouldn’t it happen in the Jewish community is getting really tired, and it convinces no-one with a brain.

  • Malki, are you interested in defending animal rights or in dumping on Yiddishkeit? What do you care if I feel every mitzvah is beautiful or not? What’s your gripe? You are against a Yid loving Torah and mitzvos? I don’t get that you are motivated by love of chickens but more by hostility towards the Torah Judaism I follow.

  • Akiva says:

    It is not a mitzvah. It is an entirely dubious – and quite recent – tradition, at best.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Sorry I did contradict myself there. So excited at finding that website about the wheat, I am getting carried away. It is very interesting.
    I meant to say Attack the actions of the person and NOT the person. The personal attacks are ad hominem and not a way to build a strong argument for or against something. Let’s argue nicely, shall we?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Actually no I am very much against bullfighting, and have actually written several pieces about the ancient pagan similarities.

    But my issue with Kaparos you’ll notice, was not really about cruelty, as I know it can be done with very little damage to the chicken, please re-read my comments, that was not my issue. (In fact, i think the only thing i mentioned relating to cruelty, was the trauma it inflicted on us as youngsters.. I didnt mention giving a cluck about the chicken.)

    My issue with Kaparos you will find apparent if you re-read my comments.

    Again what I asked you and you have not yet answered is
    a) if you think its a “beautiful mitzvah” like you asserted in your first comment
    (to which you responded “every mitzvah is beautiful”, something which not a single Lubavitcher Rebbe agreed with, which is why I asked you, because I was wondering why it is that you made such an assertion.)


    b) if you ever SAW the Rebbe do Kaparos.

    which you also didn’t answer.

  • Miriam, Are you in favor of preventing (if possible) religious Jews from doing kapores? If you feel it is so morally objectionable, the it would follow that you would then be in favor of shutting it down, right?

  • I won’t answer your question because I find it offensive as it would be disrespectful of me to. I could never attempt to be the Rebbe’s lawyer, interpreter or his apologist. I am merely (if G-d allows me) his devoted follower. He gave us his clear instructions, end of story. Who am I to second guess him and moreover, who are you?

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    To be really honest I don’t view Kaporot as a bad or disgusting practice after all I grew up on a sheep and cattle property and I saw things like
    1. Mulsing of young lambs where they take the skin off the butt with a pair of shears that looks like the scissor instruments you use for trees. Now people get all excited about that and want to ban Australian lamb imports in the UK and USA but if you have ever seen what fly strike does to a sheep when the maggots literally eat the sheep from the inside out, a bit of skin off when a lamb is a good thing. Yet the animal activists want to stop this practice and allow the sheep to die in their thousands and even millions with fly strike and the flies will be having a jolly old time this spring with all the rain. And it is a slow and vile death too.
    2. Castration of young male sheep
    3. Branding and castration of cattle

    I could go on with a few more graphic details but it might make a few sensitive souls here quite unable to have their breakfast in the morning. There are a lot worst things than kaporot and schecta, believe me!
    And you know what, some of it is life.

  • Miriam says:

    Actually, I agree with Akiva. I’ve investigated the issue, and have come to the conclusion that it is not a mitzvah, and is a pretty darn new tradition.

    I would like to see a rational public discussion on how we, as a supposedly enlightened and educated people, religiously obligated, so I believe, to treat all creatures humanely. A discussion that does not invoke the Rebbe in any way. Because I don’t believe in his specialness at all. Neither does most of the community.

    That having been said, I wouldn’t actively try to stop anyone from their religious practice. I would, however, like to see them have to loudly and repeatedly justify with clarity, publicly, each and every time. If the secular law happened to be changed to prohibit it, I wouldn’t be at all upset.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I am actually trying to demonstrate the opposite to you.
    I am not suggesting you second guess such a Tzaddik as the Rebbe.
    What I am suggesting is that perhaps you have second guessed the Rebbe.

    When doing Kaparos, the Rebbe would wince, as if he were in pain, and looked as if he were so loathed to be partaking in it, it would make even the most ardent Chassid question their leader. Some have compared the way he performed Kaparos to being akin to the way Avraham may have begun Akeidas Yitzchak.

    Not every mitzvah is beautiful at all.

  • Technically kapores is not in the Shulchan Aruch, it is not a halacha, true, it is a custom, however, the Rebbe often emphasized that minhagim are even greater than a halachot.

  • Malki, you are completely our of your depth here. Even if what you say is so, you couldn’t possibly know what it means. I refuse to go into a discussion about the Rebbe on such a base level, it is simply not kaovdik, as a chosid, I find it distasteful to say the least.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Did the Jews of Egypt merely adopt the custom of growing sprouts from their Egyptian neighbours? The answer might be found in the commentary of Rashi (France, 1040-1105) to Tractate Shabbat, 81b, where he states:

    In the Responsa of the Geonim I have found that [in the days of the Sages of the Talmud] they made baskets from palm fronds and filled them with soil and dung and twenty-two or fifteen days before Rosh Hashana each and every one made one for each and every male and female child of the household and sowed in it Egyptian beans [ie cow peas] or pulses and it was called purpesa [parpisa] and it sprouted. And on the eve of Rosh Hashana everyone took his own and circled it around his head seven times saying: “This in lieu of this; this is my exchange; this is my substitute” and then threw it into the river.

    There seems to be an internal inconsistency in Rashi’s account. Was this custom practised only for the children of the household, as is first suggested, or for all members of the household, as is later suggested? Whatever be the answer, this practice in Talmudic times, as recounted by the Geonim and later Rashi, is remarkably similar to the Egyptian Jewish custom the subject of this article and as described above by Jacques Hassoun. It is, however, also similar to the ancient Egyptian practice. Was the Jewish practice in Talmudic times (if not before) somehow derived from or related to the ancient Egyptian practice?

    This practice in Talmudic times is the origin of the custom of kapparot, the expiation of sin by its symbolic transferral. It has, since then, undergone several changes. Firstly, since Geonic times this custom has been practised with chickens (see Rabbi Solomon Ben


    Adret, responsum no. 395, who writes that it was so practised in the days of Hai Gaon (Pumbedita, Babylonia, 939-1038)). In more recent times, it has been alternatively been practised with coins which are then donated to charity. Secondly, whilst in Talmudic times it was practised on the eve of Rosh Hashana, since Geonic times it has been practised usually on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Thirdly, whereas the custom in Talmudic times was to throw the sprouts into the river, the custom since Geonic times has been to slaughter the chickens and generally donate them to the poor. Fourthly, whereas the custom in Talmudic times was to circle the sprouts around the head seven times, the custom since Geonic times has been to do so only three times.

    That the custom of kapparot was originally practised more for children rather than for adults (as is su

  • Malki Rose says:

    Miriam and Akiva,
    you are 100% correct, it is far from being a “mitzvah”, and short of invoking the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s involvement in this practice there is little else left from any recent Tzaddik which suggests otherwise.

    The RSPCA DID shut Kaparos down several years back, but like with all things there are loopholes.

    I personally do not partake in it, and have not been to Brooklyn to observe it, but I am told it is done a little differently now, which makes it harder to ban on the grounds of cruelty. (once again to those who only half read what I write.. the cruelty was not my major concern.. my concern is parading what is clearly pagan behaviour as Torah.)

  • Miriam says:

    I don’t believe in the Rebbe’s specialness, and I think the Chabadnik attitude to him is idolatry. so that argument does nothing at all for me.

  • Miriam, do you believe in G-d?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    This is somewhat strange and I wonder where you have been.
    No one person can dispute the greatness of the Rebbe a leader who changed and invigorated world Jewry after the decimation of the European Jews in the mid twentieth century.
    I find your comments odd as he was a very special person and I think we should recognise tzaddikim for who they are. Unless of course, we believe that our learning and our own personal greatness is superior to that of his. I however hesitate to be so arrogant in my approach to life and would never dream of measuring myself against someone like the Rebbe.

    ‘A discussion that does not invoke the Rebbe in any way. Because I don’t believe in his specialness at all. Neither does most of the community.’

  • Malki, you can’t convince me that you are so concerned about whether this is a minhag, or a mitzvah, or if it has pagan roots, as if you are so worried about maintaining the integrity and the kedushah of our standards of Torah observance! Is that the bone you are picking here? You have another agenda, not sure what it is, but you can’t fool everyone.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Miriam I take my hat (tichel) in your presence, you must be one learned woman if you have little respect for any of the learned men of these past generations.
    Yes there are some people who go over the top in some things but that does not detract from the Rebbe’s standing and learning. He was special. Why do you try to deride and denigrate a good person who did a lot for his fellow Jew? Not necessary and with such anger it is no wonder that Moishiah is delayed on the way…

  • Malki Rose says:

    “Malki, you are completely our of your depth here. Even if what you say is so, you couldn’t possibly know what it means. I refuse to go into a discussion about the Rebbe on such a base level, it is simply not kaovdik, as a chosid, I find it distasteful to say the least.”

    I have paid the Rebbe nothing but Kavod. And always have.

    I think you’ve just abandoned the discussion because you made a claim about the Rebbe (zt”l) and about a ‘kabbalistic minhag’ that you simply cannot substantiate.

    It seems that you only keep it because you think (in stark opposition to the Rebbe and many other Poskim mind you) that EVERY mitzvah is beautiful, (please also read the Mishneh Torah and Gemarra on Akeidas Yitzchak) and because somebody has told you to, a crying shame for a thinking person.

    To have such blind emunah in a concept, without proper binah or da’as, is far more distasteful and does much to disrespect the Rebbe, as you are putting your own spin on Kaparos that the Rebbe simply didnt. The Rebbe did not view Kaparos as a “beautiful mitzvah”, and no true Chassid of his would ever make such a claim.

    It sounds like you are just trying to cling to it, and grasping at straws.

    Perhaps you need to consider re-thinking even though you dont like it, as you said
    “growth can sometimes make one feel uncomfortable, there is not real life without growth.”

  • And by the way Miriam, abortions are happening in OUR community too, why don’t you call that DISGUSTING? I think I know the answer. The answer is that you (and your ilk) are not as much motivated by compassion for the chickens so-called ‘suffering’ as you are by your DISGUST of Torah observant Judaism. That is what is making you upset, that there are Jews who follow a religion that you do not understand, fear, and are therefore repulsed by. You are focusing on the kapores, but this is only a channel for your revulsion the Judaism it represents.

  • Malki Rose says:

    and no I don’t have an agenda.
    You say you like debate. Good. Here tis then.

  • Malki Rose says:

    just because someone disagrees with you doesnt mean they have a disgust of Judaism, I dont think that is a fair comment.

  • Malki, you haven’t got a clue what you are talking about. Nobody told me anything. You are using words like ‘binah; and ‘das’ compoletely out of context here.

    I’ll spell it out for you again. The Rebbe wanted us to do kapores, so we do it. What can’t you understand? What is so difficult here? Is it a minhag? Yes. It is a mitzvah too, because it has mystical effects on the world since it brings Jews to teshuva.

    Every mitzvah is beautiful, yes, even when we cry becuase it is painful, in my opinion, it is still beautiful because Torah is. This is not a scholarly statement but a heirgish, a feeling of a Yid’s heart, and cannot be argued as if it were a pask din.

    And how would you know what any ‘true chosid’ would or wouldn’t claim? Excuse me, but with all due respect, are you in any position to speak for Chassidim? I don’t think so.

    Emunah is sometimes open minded and sometimes it needs to be blind, and if you accuse me of having blind emunah in my Rebbe, then yes, I stand accused, and proudly and happily so.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Starts to sound brainwashed and cultish.
    The very thing you claim to despise.

    Granted, you have taken Pirkei Avos’ advice “Find for yourself a teacher”, but perhaps consider that there is still more to understand and learn, even if it is a discomfort for you, especially from people you consider lesser Yidden. (It also says “who is wise, he who learns from even a fool”)

    Regarding your claim that I dont know what I am talking about, unfortunately, for you, I do. Here are the words “Da’as” and “Binah” delivered in what I hope is a better context for you. “Knowledge” and “Understanding” in all actions, words and thoughts created in the name of G-d is of primary importance!!! For you to accept blindly upon yourself any minhag is in stark opposition to all of Chabad Chassidus.

    Neither the Baal Shem Tov, nor the Alter Rebbe designed Chassidus to be a blindly adhered to cult, but a questioned, discussed and understood vehicle to better serve

    Kabbala is extremely potent and Chassidus is a version of this, so you need to remember that it is dangerous to blindly engage without thorough research in anything so powerful.

  • Tom says:

    Mrs SS. please let me know how you know that the Rebbe was as great as the Rambam or greater. I realise he was a great Tzaddik, but never heard this.

  • Malki Rose says:

    once again, awesome post, I am now exiting the discussion, as Frosh suggested and I agree we are going around in circles and to no apparent ends.

    I think its clear that everyone else agrees there are some problems with Kaparos, even though we may disagree on why and how and to what extent and whether it should be continued or discontinued on different bases.

    For most people its a tough one, and something most Chassidim grapple with. But I am glad there is at least one person on this earth who is on such a high madreigah, even higher than that of the Arizal, the Rambam, Ramban, R’ Ovadia, or any Lubavitcher Rebbe, that they are so totally elated and chirpy about fulfilling this gorgeously sexy mitzvah, L’Sheim Shamayim.

    I suppose there really is someone who loves the smell of Napalm in the morning.

  • Yes, before I lay my head down to sleep, I will pre-empt the accusation that I am following my leader blindly since I accused others of doing that….but the difference is that my leader, the Rebbe is a holy man, a tzadik, a G-dly person and is the Emes as Torah is not even a religion, it just is the Emes. Everyone has to serve something, better to serve Hashem then some false (sheker) idols or one’s ego or one passions, cause G-d knows we do enough of that already.

  • I don’t see any problems with kapores. That doesn’t make me a bad person, akin to the homocidal military maniac in the movie. And I also don’t like the smell of chickens but that is really not at all germane. I never claimed to despise being a follower of a tzadik, I despise being a follower of the latest fad, or of the secular gods of a non-Jewish society. I despise being a follower of the non-Jewish idols of the day while denigrating Torah observance.

    Here are the questions that need to be answered:

    Do you believe kapores should be prohibited?
    Are the animals being harmed?
    Should the religious rights of the frum Jews be protected?

  • The Rebbe created a revolution, possibly the most enormous spiritual revolution to occur over many centuries. He certainly breathed new life into the post Holocaust generation. No one can doubt his impact and influence as the greatest single religious Jewish scholar, thinker, and leader of the 20th century He influenced and transformed not just his own Chassidim, not just world Jewry, but the entire world in every corner of the globe. Of course he was as great or greater than the Rambam.

  • The questions that have not been answered so far:

    Should kapores be prohibited?
    Do the religious rights of Jews deserve to be protected?

    Bully anyone who disagrees with you all you want, make up all the and stories distort all you want about the Torah scholars and what they supposedly believed, distort all the facts you want, until those questions are answered, we have not gotten to the core of this entire discussion or why it was brought up at all. Was this all just a chance to bash frum Jews or do any of you who find this practice disgusting actually believe kapores should be stopped out of some deeply held moral imperative of animal rights?

    What then was the point of the article and discussion in the first place? To state that some people find kapores yucky? To make fun of it or belittle it?

    And some of these same Jews who jump up and down screaming at how horribly barbaric kapores is (or shechita, or bris milah, etc) are the first ones to defend some of the most barbaric practices of sharia law in the name of religious tolerance.

  • Joe says:

    Mrs Silcove – “…….Of course he was as great or greater than the Rambam.”
    I seem to recall on an earlier post, you stating that you didn’t want to start a “My Rabbi/Rebbe is greater than your Rabbi/Rebbe debate…”.
    You seem to have forgotten what you recently wrote.
    I wonder why!

  • Eli says:

    In an earlier post SS wote;

    Shoshanna Silcove says:
    September 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    The origins of kapores are not pagan. The influence of Kabbalah gave the custom much of its mystical aura. There is some opinion that kapores is related to the use of a scapegoat in Temple times on which the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) placed the sins of the Children of Israel before sending the goat out to its death.

    Etc Etc ……

    Perhaps you would at least pay proper approbation to the original writer Lorne Rozovsky whose words, interspersed with your own diatribe, you quoted as if your own. I am sure that it’s a mitzvah to give credit where credit is due.

    A university education would surely have taught that when quoting another source it is incumbent on the writer to indicate the use of other writers’ articles and append footnotes. Requesting permission to use some portions is also a courtesy.

    Plagiarism is akin to theft and the last time I looked that was one of the big 10 no no’s

    Note also that in that article there is discussion regarding some controversy as to its practice (as mentioned by others here).That also misrepresents the original authors’ intent as well.

    Well at least you have another year to repent that sin, and I am sure you will ask Lorne Rozovsky for his personal forgiveness before your next chicken whirling durbish.

    Here is the original article which interestingly IIana posted the link to in an earlier post but for other reasons.


  • Sorry, thanks for pointing that out to me. I was remiss and in my haste i forgot to cut and paste the link.

  • Someone asnwer the question that stands like an elephant in the room:

    Should kapores be prohibited or not?
    If so, what of the religious rights of Jews?

  • Hey Joe, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, and besides, I was asked the question so I answered it, unlike some other bloggers here who won’t answer the question:
    Should kapores be prohibited?
    if so, what of the rights of religious Jews, should they be protected or not?

  • Denigrating me or any other blogger does not settle the issue. Is kapores so disgustingly horribly immoral that it should banned? Anyone?

  • Maybe someone should coin the term Frumaphone. Why not? We have Homophobe, Islamaphobe, why not Frumaphobe?

    some people (not accusing anyone on this blog but some people I have met) have an interesting sense of right and wrong:
    *homosexuality is right
    *kapores is wrong
    *sharia law is acceptable and must be tolerated, including it’s cruel treatment of women which is somehow ignored
    *abortion is right
    *shechita is wrong
    *financial crimes of frum Jews are the worst of all
    * sexual decadence is not only to be tolerated, but who is to judge?

    and they say Torah Jews don’t make sense?

  • Eli says:


    Ooops i forgot! This is your best! response.

    Shoshana please! Your post made no mention of the fact that they were not your words. You used no quote marks…
    You cheery picked sentences that supported your point of view,interspersed with your own ,knowingly that the article also discussed other issues that were perhaps not so supportive.

    In your entire post there is not one glimpse or indication that what you had written are not your own words.

    That you failed to mention this, is not an error of omission, since the reader would not know in the first place. You present it as is, in its entirety.

    You should immediately apologize to Lorne Rozovsky for misrepresenting his article and stealing his words,and apologise to the readers for blatant plagiarism.

    “Ooops i forgot…” doesn’t cut it

  • Not true Eli, I wrote in hate and was remiss in cutting ans pastig a link. It is simply an oversight on a blog comment, not an article I authored or a published article that I wrote. Lorne Rozovsky gives me the benefit of the doubt, which is a mitzvah, but you won’t because you are just using this as a way to attack me. Feel free to insult me etc.

    Will somone answer the question:
    Should kapores be prohibited or not?
    If so, should the rights of religious Jews be protected?

  • CORRECTION–I meant I wrote in ‘HASTE’ (not ‘hate’, see rushINg does not anyone any good, left out the ‘s’ ha ha

  • correction_
    Not true Eli, I wrote in haste and was remiss in cutting and pastig a link. It is simply an oversight on a blog comment, not an article I authored or a published article that I wrote. Lorne Rozovsky gives me the benefit of the doubt, which is a mitzvah, but you won’t because you are just using this as a way to attack me. Feel free to insult me etc.

  • Helloo….

    Will somone answer the question:
    Should kapores be prohibited or not?
    If so, should the rights of religious Jews be protected?

  • Miriam says:

    I believe in G-d.

    I stand in awe of tzaddikim such as the Rambam. I don’t think the Rebbe was anything besides a wise and learned man. Certainly, I would rather invest my learning and place my trust in figures such as the Rambam, Karo and Rashi. I am not a Chassid. I am frum.I am Orthodox.

    I find kapores a remnant of an ignorant dark-ages, akin to witchdoctery, and village superstition. It is not a mitzvah.

    Not sure how my attitude to abortion and bull-fighting are relevant, but I am pro-choice, although I would personally never have an aborition, and very much anti-bullfighting. I await the day that the Jewish community regulates itself internally to educate itself out of this sort of superstitious mentality. I am constantly amazed that we have collectively let ourselves get into a position where this sort of Judaism pulls the public strings.

    Shoshanna, yours is not the only way of being Jewish, and observant. There is a sizeable silent majority out there who find your practises and your comments distasteful. They are no less Jewish for that. I’m not sure how you can be unaware of this.

  • Being in the majority does not make for right. The minority is often right

  • Miriam says:

    Being in the minority or majority has nothing whatsoever to do with being right. You are no more likely to be right because you’re in a very vocal minority than Julia Gillard is likely to be a good prime minister….atrocious comparison….

    what should be the case, and is not, is that your minority Jewish practice should not be the main one represented on community forums like this and in public Jewish life. You actively howl down anyone who disagrees with you, and so make it difficult for anyone from other streams of Judaism to contribute meaningfully to these fora. The only ones who dare are those truly at wit’s end, or argumentative and confident ones such as me. You may therefore believe that you are convincing the silent majority, but you are not. You are merely contributing to their disengagement, especially the young ones.

  • Sam says:

    Hi Shoshanna,

    I do not post under other names. I am certainly not obsessed with you. Ilana Leeds is not me, and if she agrees with something I posted then maybe you should take more than a split second to think about it. BTW my estimate of you posting comments every 30 minutes was way out, and for this I apologise.
    Going back to topic, my belief in Kaporas is that it is some-what barbaric and should be eliminated from modern orthodox practice.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Believe it or not, I worked in a slaughter house a long time ago as a tally clerk–counting off the bodies, including watching schetitah. All forms of slaugther are exciting, sickening, frightening, whether then the stun gun or the knife.

    Thank goodness for people like Temple Grandin with her insight into bovine behaviour. Recognizing that we eat meat doesn’t mean that animals have to be frightened into dying, whether cattle or chickens. We need to be aware of the cruelty to animals that goes on in slaughter.

    I find the theoretical principles behind shecitah, to regard killing as a special act admirable actually, The schochetim I have seen at work are pretty skilled. But I would prefer stunning first to be sure.

    But I’m not going to get into an argument about that.

    However, we don’t need to attach folk-magic to it, or if we do, be open about it.

    If kapparot is not about apotropaic ritual, the thrill of a sacrifice & scaring chickens then I don’t know what is. Quit the obscure justifications, it is folk magic that people enjoy and the sacrifice of chickens/sins goes on in lots of culture.

    You are either for such forms of substitutional /scapegoat magic or not and for the right of chook to die in dignity before the soup pot.

    I know my preference. Lay off the magic. A peaceful chook makes nice soup.

  • . ..”The only ones who dare are those truly at wit’s end, or argumentative and confident ones such as me. You may therefore believe that you are convincing the silent majority, but you are not. You are merely contributing to their disengagement, especially the young ones…”

    how do you know Miriam, you speak for everyone in the whole world or the entire youth of our community’s generation? When have I ‘howled’ at you? Oh PLEASE! gimme a break and stop being so dramatic.

    I simply call a spade a spade.

    If any of you believe that all this is superstition or magic you are grossly misinformed to say the least. It is neither, but you insist, no matter how many differnt ways it is explained, you simply do not want to hear otherwise, do not want to learn, your mind is made up.

    As Ilana stated earlier, accepting that Torah is more than myth, more than superstition, for some Jews it would imply obligations on their part. It is therefore much easier to dismiss it all or reinterpret, to make frum Jews appear bad, to make it so that you don’t have to change your life or outlook, regardless if those ideas are at all correct. You don’t want to challenge your misconceptions about Judaism because that could mean you’re living your life in a wring manner. It is far too confronting.

  • correction–I meant
    you’re living your life in a wrong manner. It is far too confronting.

  • Akiva says:

    Shoshanna, you are clearly confused. Kapores has nothing to do with Torah. It is perfectly proper to accept Torah and deny kapores.

    Furthermore, you have failed to explain kapores in any other way besides ‘the Rebbe liked it so I do it’. This is hardly explaining the practice in many different ways. Please be consistent.

  • so Larry, would you support efforts to restrict the rights of Jews to perform kapores?

  • Akiva, I already explained, it is a minhag, and minhagim are Torah, indeed, as the Rebbe often said, minhagim are even more important than halachaot. And it leads to teshuvah, therefore a mitzvah. The Rebbe told us to do it, and as a chosid, I obey my Rebbe. Got a problem with that too?

  • Akiva says:

    Damn right I do. It isn’t my minhag, nor has it ever been the minhag of my community. And yes, I’m orthodox. It is a pagan practice, which no more leads to sincere teshuvah than the much-derided Christian practice of selling absolution. G-d gave me a brain to learn with; I don’t propose to waste it by blindly following the second-hand orders of a figure whose status I view as questionable. I don’t believe n, nor do I practice idolatry.

  • Ok, let’s agree to disagree, Akiva. No point, nothing will convince you that a Rebbe is not idolatry, nor is kapores absolution.

    You seem to be extremely intolerant of a path in Judaism that is different to yours.

  • Akiva, you have very extreme views, most gedolim and Rabbis outside Lubav recognise the Rebbe as a legitimate Torah leader and the Chabad movement as a true Torah one. But you call it idolatry! It ia almost as if you are in favour of religious persecution or at least cesnruing of your fellow frum Jews. Shocking intolerance on your part to say the least.

  • Miriam says:

    Shoshanna, that isn’t true. Many, many non-chabadnikim, including very many MO rabbis stay completely clear of the Rebbe’s teachings precisely out of a distaste for the sort of crude blindness and intolerance it seems to encourage. Besides, I believe Akiva said that he considers the Rebbe a wise man. Many of us believe that the Rebbe’s views in a matter such as this are irrelevant, seeing as they are neither halakhically binding or backed up by the vast majority of texts.

  • Go ahead, bash Chabad and the Rebbe, he and the movement do not need my defense. Just shows your intolerance bright in the light for all to see.

  • To assert that any of the Rebbe’s teachings are not backed by halacha is absurd and is terrible slander based on ignorance, prejudice, anti-pluralistis and intolerance of different points of view within Judaism.
    In short, it is DISGUSTING but alas, what do you know of what you speak anyway?

  • Why do some Jews attack Chassidim, particularly Chabad?
    by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

    see link here:

    Eds: Please do not repost articles in full from other sites. A short quotation with a link, or just a link, is sufficient.

  • “One of the most outstanding features of the Rebbe was the way he dealt with those who opposed him. Sadly, some individuals in the Jewish world never missed an opportunity to criticize the Lubavitcher Rebbe, denigrate him and scoff at him. Some individuals even made it an important mission to sow hatred against him and his movement among their students. Motivated by ideology, ignorance, envy or arrogance, these people made his life difficult. And yet, the Lubavitcher Rebbe never ceased to love them and seek ways to terminate the animosity and separation. The Rebbe never made peace with the fact that “some Jews just won’t get along with each other.” He loathed disunity among Jews and sought every opportunity to foster mutual respect and affection.
    I always remember thinking that if the Rebbe’s opponents would only know how much he cared for their well being, they could never harbor negative sentiments to him.”

    see source linked here:

  • Malki,

    I never said that I didn’t like doing kaporas. In fact, quite the contrary. It is a custom that I cherish very much, despite the smell of the chickens.

    I never saw the Rebbe do kaporas, and rely on second hand accounts of the Rebbe’s very pained expression as you do. The intepretation of it passed on to me was very different to your own, namely that the Rebbe fully appreciated the gravity of the moment of kapara (the shechita itself) which constitites the metaphoric “exchange”. Of course neither of us know what was in the Rebbe’s mind at the time. What for you is an expression of his distaste for the custom, is for me an appreciation of its deep spirituality and intensity.

    To all the others who speak disparagingly about kaporos (done with chickens, or maybe in general): it is a custom that is at least a few hundred years old. Many great Jewish scholars did it and supported it, and many opposed it, each with their own reasons. Today, it is widely done (with chickens) amongst all Chassidic groups. It does look like voodoo, and darkei Emori, which is the basis for those objectors. I feel the practice is very similar to the semicha that was done in Temple times before bringing a sacrifice.

    People on here have called it barbaric, pagan, inhumane, primitive, cruel and foul (not sure if anyone called it “foul”, but I couldn’t resist adding that in). Certainly, in modern society, it looks “weird”. I wonder if it’s any more weird than putting leather boxes with scrolls inside and wrapping straps around my arm every day, or eating an animal because of the shape of its hooves, or any number of the things we do (mitzvot or custom). If it is qualitatively more weird, why do people think so? And where do they draw the line?

  • Malki, unlike you, I do not feel I am in any position to second guess the Rebbe’s holy intentions or thoughts. How could I, such a small person in comparison to the Rebbe even portend to do so? It would be a complete and total chutzpah! How would you know or anyone what the Rebbe thought? How could anyone interpret his holy facial expressions? You heard this from a third or fourth or fifth party? Then you feel it is fine to pass it on that it is known what the Rebbe thought about kapores? All we know is that he told us to do it and that he did it, not what holy thoughts or feelings he had on the subject. We only can know what he told us, and even then we cannot always be certain, and we certainly cannot glean from his his expression what he may mean.

    I liked your witty quip about it being ‘foul’, very good Malki. ;^)

  • Shoshanna – read the post properly before firing your weapon!

  • What weapon? You need to read Malki’s posts, that is what I was referring to, not yours.

  • And to you David, good quip about it being ‘foul’ hahahahahaha

  • David , it is obvious that some people are against it because they believe it is cruelty to the animals.

  • Eli says:

    Galus is on a winner. The footy show had Sam Newman. Radio and TV have Kyle Sandilands. The media world always finds someone whose is self opinionated,rude, controversial,inconsistent with facts,farcical, contentious,either super conservative or extreme in thier beliefs.

    But they are a huge bonus for media. They raise the ire of many, quite often with simplistic arguments, but always inspire a deluge of comments. More importantly many will watch programs or visit sites just to see what new crazy, “insightful” revelations or comments these people have to spew forth, often without regard for peoples sensibilities or etiquette, let alone the facts.

    Quite often they chew up enormous amounts space and time either on air or in print. Once the tap is turned it’s hard to stop. Verbal diarrhea is often symptomatic for these pathological ” i need to have the last word” contributors.

    Congrats to Galus, and woe to the rest who must empty the already overfilled inboxes with “another Post” from…..

    I admit I am in the “let’s see how much more mishugas” can this person write. I am sure I will tire of it very soon..cos my “this is drek meter” is about to explode.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    This topic is HOOOOOTTTT and a bit of a HOOT too. It is getting done to the death metaphorically and literally.
    The Rebbe probably had a pained expression for the same reason the Ba’al Shem Tov whetted his scheita knife with tears.
    Make of it what you will. I think highly of people who have to scheitch the animal for eating. It is a very serious thing to take a life and the person who does this needs to be a very upright and pious person in his approach to all things.
    The gravity is that you hold in your hands literally a warm blooded living creature who is going to meet the death that you may have deserved for your transgressions during the year. Isn’t that serious enough.
    The Rebbe ORM would have felt this deeply and keenly.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Well, I think Ilana sums up my view–I thought blood offerings were out of bounds there days. If it looks like vodoo, smells like vodoo…it’s a bit cultic.

    We can have a discussion about brit milah another time if people wish.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Then there will be another text on the net similar length to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Well I have some writing to do and a PowerPoint etc. I will opt out of this discussion because I believe my views are coherently expressed and that is that.
    Let’s be civilised what ever we do or say.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Shoshanna Silcove. Surely the chicken being swung around, scared out of its little chicken wits, would produce lots of adrenalin into its flesh… what goes around comes around, when you eat it.

  • Yeah, was wondering why I felt so hyper after my last chicken dinner. ;^)

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Ahh Aussie Battler so we are all going to feel like we have just had a whizzie after eating chicken at our yom tov table in the succa tomorrow night?
    WHAT FUN! I must make sure I eat the chicken in small quantities so I don’t get dizzie. Do the hormone free chickens from Sydney also have Whizzie qualities??

  • Emes says:

    Fascinating synopsis of Kapparot and those who opposed it:

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Emes has given a link to a very clear and concise paragraph that sums up the issue in a nutshell. This topic should be finished here and now in the interests of Shalom Beis for Kal Israel.

    I also forgive Mikeybear for his crude attempts to defame and misrepresent me and my literary intentions. How can I expect anyone with his impoverished reading skills to understand more complex texts but I am sure he will get better with time and practice. He will just have to take time off his hedonistic pursuits and focus on learning.
    To all Kal Israel – a gut yom tov, chag smeach succot.
    May we all sit in the great succa of Moishiah in the very near future and carrying the analogy one step futher, we need to remind ourselves who and what we are, despite differences of opinion and lifestyles that we all have the same end, we were all created by the one G-D and we each one of us had a higher purpose in this short span of time we are here, so make the most of it.
    Chag smeach!

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Swinging a chicken around wildly in the air. Would also take a cat by the tail and swing it in air? Australia has laws against such cruelty to animals. Although stupidly, Australia allows live export of sheep and cattle to the Middle East!

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    You are way out of your depth Aussie battler, this topic has been done to the death and your ridiculous simile adds nothing new or worthwhile to the debate.
    First cats are not chickens if you had not noticed, and they are not kosher, we do not slaughter them to eat or even for that matter slaughter them at all.
    Most people I know who do kaprot do not swing the chicken by the legs but gently circle the bird around their heads. You would have some very agitated chickens if you did that and a lot of pooh and clucking. You have probably never been anywhere near a yard where they do kapot and if you have then you are exaggerating and lying through your teeth. Never mind, there are uses for active imaginations and writing might be a good outlet for you. Stick to fiction though.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Hello llana Leeds, I am not suggesting you or anyone else eat cats! The point I was making is animal cruelty.

    The Jewish custom (not practiced by all Jewish people) of the chicken slaughter ceremony drew my attention mainly because I detest the cruelty to chickens in today’s farmed caged chicken industry… internet images of the chickens, used during kaprot, all seemed to be poor scrawny looking chickens. In one YouTube video the street scenes where the custom was being carried out in Jerusalem looked anything but ceremonial! Just a lot of blood and feathers. What surprised me most, was to see children so close to the slaughter.

    Now, the other bloody custom, male circumcision. Thank God that barbaric custom is no longer routinely carried out following the birth of baby boys nowadays in Australia!

  • Bris says:


    Medical opinion has, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, repeatedly pronouned the health benefits of circumcision. Did you know, for example, that all Aussie soldiers sent to Vietnam were circumcised for health reasons?

    From a Jewish perspective, circumcision has been our tradition for some 4000+ years since the time of Abraham. It is a fundamental Jewish practice that has been kept throughout the millennia by Jews of all persuasions. It is in no way harmful to the baby – to the contrary, an uncircumcised baby could well encounter significant issues upon growing up and seeking to marry a Jewish woman and even when it comes time for them to be buried in a Jewish cemetary.

    For information on the medical opinion in support of circumcision, see http://www.oztorah.com/2010/08/circumcision/

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Thanks Bris for the level of sane commentary in this ocean of subjective comments by the leftist lynch mob who have not changed their tack in the past fifty years. They are still ardent Trotsky adherents at heart. I hark back to the comment where Foob calls Shoshanna Silcove ‘a troll’. Not once have I and I do not think she has either, called the other participants in this debate anything bordering on the psychotic labels that have been plastered over us.
    It is interesting that when you are in danger of losing the debate you lefty lot get subjective and personal. Sign of a person who is losing the real debate, so let’s stick to issues.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Aussie Battler- agreed there’s nothing sensible about routine circumcision absent religious reasons or health reasons.
    Just start with 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and approx 15 million million Jews – half of whom circumcised for religious/identity reasons, and without incident. Don’t fret so much – no evidence from serious studies that its harmful.

    If you are able to put your prejudices about religious practice aside for five minutes, read this amazing stuff about the work of Inon Schenker and the huge positive impact of circumcision for populations at high HIV risk in Africa. More than any measure (because of poor take up of barrier methods), circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV by as much as 70%.
    The initial study had to be stopped half way because the results were so compelling that it became unethical not to share the recommendations with the uncircumcised population in the study. The stats continue to be mindboggling.
    Not a case for routine circumcision for the whole population but a good example that use of words like ‘barbaric’ to describe a religiously and culturally important practice reveals prejudice (or perhaps just vitriol) rather than real concern. Circumcision is at worst benign but often very beneficial.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Yes, there are real benefits apart from the cultural and religious significance for us and quite a few other cultures. There are many African tribes and also our own Australian Indigenous populations who traditionally circumcised young males as a part of the manhood ceremonies at puberty.
    It was only the Europeans from the colder northern climates where it was not so common. It would be interesting to see why it was not a prevalent custom in Northern Europe and England per se.

  • Corrections department says:

    OT, but important.

    Ilana – the word troll has several meanings, however in most cases nowadays, it is not a term suggesting a grotesque mythical figure, but rather an internet term suggesting someone who turns up on blogs and chatboards with the intent of derailing or interrupting discussions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet).

    Not nice, but probably not as nasty as you initially thought.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Perhaps Muslim, Christian and Jewish men would be less violent toward each other, less war loving if they didn’t have the foreskin chopped off… chopped off like a chooks head! : (

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Oh HA HA HA. Aussie battler, what happened to your foreskin? Didn’t the mohel remove it because he was frightened you would have a brain hemorrhage?

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Not so funny, llana Leads, I am a woman who knows of the possibility of hemorrhage/pediatric trauma following male circumcision. So are you also aware of the possibility of post circumcision hemorrhage?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Apart from the fact that I suspect you are a man, I am perhaps too subtle for you, because I will not insult you by suggesting the other possibility, and yes I am aware and it is serious if such an event occurs. That is why it is better to have a qualified mohel do circumcisions rather than have your child’s penis hacked at by anyone who has a medical degree but no specific training in the area.
    There are a few very good mohels in the Melbourne community and it should not be too hard to find them if you are looking.
    They will go through the process step by step and instruct the parents of any boy undergoing such a procedure and furthermore precautions are taken. I have placed some links above and they are very useful. Have a little read and a nice cup of tea. You will feel better. You are a humourless this morning, aren’t you? Start the day positive and with Modai ani and a few brachot and Shema going on to the amida if you have time and it does wonders for ones perception of the world.

  • A word from someone who believes in Hashem and his Torah:
    Judaism does not see a dichotomy between the spiritual and the physical. All of this physical world was created for us to elevate or transform into spirituality. All of this world is here for us to extract the holy sparks and refine its coarse (animalistic) materiality into a higher state of being, into holiness. The physical body is a vehicle for the soul, and the bris is a physical mark on the body that facilitates the soul’s ability to manifest its holiness in this world. It is the only mitzvah in the Torah that commands us to make any kind of physical demarcation or change to the body. Jewish mysticism explains at length how the bris is the last stage when the soul fully enters the body. Girls are not required to have a bris because the female soul derives from a different spiritual level than the male making this physical mark uneccesary.

    While any medical procedure, however small, has it risks, there is no reason to get overly concerned. Would you ban tooth pulling because someone died from it? That would be absurd. In the same vein, Jews have been doing brissim successfully for thousands of years, and especially in today’s modern world, it is completely safe.

    As a G-d fearing Jew I know that the blessings and the high level of spiritual benefit a Jewish boy gets from having bris offers him a lifetime of protection.

  • Marky says:

    I am also aware of the possibility of nose and ear piercing hemorrhage.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Shoshanna you may be writing way above the heads of some here. They will not understand you because of where they are coming from. There are some dangers for a small number of boys who will either have problems with bleeding or other complications, but by the same token these are so small. Would you stop women giving birth naturally because of the risk factor.
    Giving birth is a far more risky procedure and more women have died because of pregnancy related complications than have ever died directly as a result of a brit mila. Are we going to stop having babies because of the risk? No, and I think that just about does it.

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Sorry in my haste I realised that sentence should read
    ‘Giving birth is a far more risky procedure and more women have died because of pregnancy related complications than boys have ever died directly as a result of a brit mila.’

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Well folks, as you have probably gathered, I am not a “G-d fearing Jew,” but I respect and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation as is.

    It is interesting to note male circumcision is depicted in Egyptian tombs dating back 5 000 years.

    llana Leeds, “suspect” whatever you choose! My judgment of circumcision being barbaric, stems from my nursing experience. And this for instance; “Baby’s penis reattached after botched circumcision”
    Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

    “Modeh Ani,” On becoming conscious, say Modeh Ani, as follows:

    I give thanks before You,
    living and eternal King,
    who has returned my soul into me
    in compassion; great is Your faithfulness.

    After going to the bathroom, and then washing hands as above, say Asher Yatsar, as follows:

    “Blessed are You, HaShem,
    Our God, Sovereign of Space-Time,
    Who formed
    Adam with wisdom (1)
    and created within him
    many openings
    and many cavities. (2)
    It is obvious and known
    before Your Throne of Glory (3)
    that if one of them were to be ruptured
    or one one of them were to be blocked
    it would be impossible to survive
    and to stand before You
    [for even one hour].
    Blessed are You, HaShem,
    Who heals all flesh
    and acts wondrously. (4)” (Beautiful and so true!)

    Please note, “CREATED ADAM WITH WISDOM!”

    As for the fear of AIDS/STDs, personal hygiene and good morals allow men to be as God intended and be free from disease.


  • Circumcision is far from barbaric. One of the precepts of the Jewish faith is that we are not to be ruled by our base animal desires and impulses. We as humans are supposed to nourish our spiritual nature, not our animal nature. We are supposed work to be in control of our animalistic insitincts, and to rise above them and refine ourselves. Our goal is to work on ourselves and not be controlled by our sex drive, which has the potential to impel us to engage in barbaric behaviour. The sex drive is G-d given and it is holy if we choose to direct it into refinement and holiness.

    The bris milah is part of Jewish identification for a male as a member of the Convenant. There are many stories of Jewish children during the Holocaust, for instance, who would have been lost to our people without this identifying mark. Our patriarch Avraham had his bris milah at aged 99, and that is when his named received an added letter ‘heh’ as part of Hashem’s name. This is symbolic of how a bris milah adds a spiritual dimension to the physcial boody of Jewish boy.

    And it has health benefits too. Johns Hopkins University Medical School researchers in America state that circumcised men aprroximately eight times less likely to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Also research supports that the low incidence of cervical cancer in Jewish women is one of the health benefits, as well as studies in the US showing a rate of penile cancer among circumcised boys as nil.
    Here is some medical info here:http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Circumcision

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Shoshanah Silcove, it appears circumcision is not universal amongst Jews.

    “Jews Against Circumcision” http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/

  • Nu? What’s new about Jews being against Jewish practice?

  • Ilana Leeds says:


    Ahh Aussie Battler I do feel under it all there is a little Neshama crying for a more Jewishly orientated lifestyle.
    We are talking about orifices and openings though and there is an article on the meaning there that when I find it I will post it for you.

  • Aussie Battler, I had a look at that website you linked. Just another group of uneducated Jews looking at Torah through non-Jewish, prejudiced, or secular eyes and thinking they know what it means when they haven’t got a clue.

  • “I was a nationalist 100 percent,” Pawel said. “Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power and I believed Poland was only for Poles. That Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world. At least in Poland it was thought this way as at the time anything that was bad was the fault of the Jews…” he said.

    Yet their discovery turned out to be a source of mutual growth and transformation. The two began educating themselves about Judaism and eventually joined the Orthodox Synagogue in Warsaw.

    Makes one wonder; what things about ourselves are awaiting our discovery which will make a profound impact upon us – and what things are we desperately fighting that they should remain concealed so that we need not make such changes.

    Kapparot may be either, perhaps a great driver for renewal and change or perhaps just a device to camouflage the blemishes that require repair.

    VeSamachTa BeChaGeCha – The comprehensive rejoicing in finding Truth and not being ashamed to admit past non-truths that were valiantly fought for and defended and in whose name we were less than honest; rejoicing in being brave to break free from past perceptions and break free from the opinions of our friends and society; rejoicing in the recognition of our new selves and our true selves.

    Chag SaMeAch

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