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Kapparot for Animal Lovers

September 24, 2012 – 10:35 pm10 Comments

Kapparot (or Kaporas כפרות) is an ancient Jewish ritual, performed prior to Yom Kippur. In recent times, this ritual has gained controversy due to the use of live chickens. In this video, Galus Australis’ resident veterinarian and animal welfare expert, Dr Vadim Chelom, demonstrates how to perform the ritual of Kapparot without compromising the welfare of the chicken.

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  • aceavi says:

    I’m on my way to Kapparos now … I was told in advance when I booked that we would be given the chicken/rooster in a box to handle when we rotate it around our heads.

  • I am pleased that Vadim has taken the time to promote this important message.
     
    It is important to emphasize however, that this practice of Kapparot is not part of our ancient Jewish Tradition. It wormed its way from external cultures that are at odds with Authentic Jewish Practice, into our sacred and pure traditions. Our early Halachic authorities opposed the practice of Kapparot but were overwhelmed by the momentum of human weakness that seeks to indulge in short-cuts and make-believe.
     
    A great tragedy lies in the fringe groups who are seen to represent authentic Judaism and who are mesmerised by these types of practices.

  • KashrusEmes says:

     @RabbiMeirRabi “A great tragedy lies in the fringe groups who are seen to represent authentic Judaism and who are mesmerised by these types of practices”
     
    While you are correct that there are several authoritative sources who speak out against the practice, you are not correct in asserting that it is “fringe groups” who are “mesmerised” by the practice. Kapparos is undertaken by tens of thousands of Yidden, including great rebbeim. Are they also “fringe” because you disagree with them?

  •  @KashrusEmes Shalom KE – your logic and your reasoning are flawed. Fringe groups are on the fringe of Halacha. There are no authoritative Halachic sources that support such practices. That it is followed by thousands and by “great rebbeim” does not stop it being on the fringe of Halacha.
     
    The people who do follow such practices – in spite of the absence of Halachic foundation, are mesmerised.

  • KashrusEmes says:

     @RabbiMeirRabi “There are no authoritative Halachic sources that support such practices.”
     
    Obviously you have failed to learn the appropriate mekoros on this subject.
     
    The minhag derives from the 9th century and has been hallowed by time – even the Rema says that it is an accepted custom and should be followed.
     
    Rabbi Rabi – Are you going to dismiss the Rema as not being sufficiently authoritative?!
     
    (And let me add that I personally do not do kapparot and am not a fan of the practice. However, far be it from me to dismiss a heilige minhag that was practised by my ancestors in the helm, even if its roots are indeed dubious and it offends our modern sense of animal welfare.)

  • KashrusEmes says:

     @RabbiMeirRabi See OC 605:1

  •  @KashrusEmes  I do appreciate this contribution. This is a useful and I hope a productive conversation.
     
    We should begin with the Tur, 605, who mentions this as a query: Why is a chicken used for this custom rather than a sheep goat or cow? Clearly, they were not contemplating waving a cow over their heads, but were just slaughtering it. But it was not slaughtered [just] for food but as ritual, symbolising exchange for the person. So why a chicken?
     
    The Tur concedes this certainly a question. He has no answer. But in fact, the Tur offers two answers. The Chidushei HaGaHos on the Tur addresses this issue – noting that the Tur does not say, “This is no question.” because in fact it is a question that has no answer. Although the Tur offers two possibilities, they are inconsistent with one another, they are mutually exclusive. So the Tur is not offering an ANSWER but SUGGESTIONS. According to the first suggestion it NEED NOT be a chicken whilst according to the second suggestion it MUST BE a chicken. So the Tur really is in the dark about the reasons for and even the exact nature of, this custom.
     
    The Rema, in his DMoshe notes on the Tur does not offer any reasons to explain or validate this practice, he simply notes that it is a widespread custom “in these lands”.
     
    The Beis Yosef, author of the ShAruch, makes it clear that he is opposed to this custom in spite of it being quite ancient and followed by the leaders of Ashkenaz (Germany? France?) indicating that ALL the Rabbanim of Ashkenaz performed this ritual and also Rav Hai recognised this practice. Nevertheless, he ensured that within his jurisdiction it was not performed. He concludes by mentioning that the RaMBaN prohibited the practice since it is, “the fashion of the pagans”. [the plain reading is that the BYosef had other reasons for prohibiting the practice, which I assume include, simply because it has no source and in fact runs contrary to the very foundations of Yiddishkeit]
     
    The Beis Yosef, is authored by HaRav Y Caro, who summarised his lengthier BYosef into what is known today as the ShAruch. In the ShA, he is most anxious to make it known that he sees no place in our Jewish traditions to support the practice of Kapparos. He insists it must be abolished. 
     
    This is where the Rema steps in and records that Kapparos, “is prevalent practice in these lands” and that it should not be altered. His support for this practice is in order to maintain a practice that he knows was not abandoned in spite of the BYosef’s opposition, and he knows that it cannot be altered and will certainly not be abandoned. Furthermore he wants to ensure that battles will not be fought over these issues. 
     
    I dont accept that these circumstances legitimise describing Kaparos as a “Heilige Minhag” nor can one say that it is “hallowed by time”.
     
    I describe the practice for what it is and for the manner in which it is embraced by many today. It has nothing to do with animal welfare, as you suggest, KEmes.
     
    Kaparos no longer serves to inspire Teshuvah [as it did when it was seen as an “exchange”] but is seen as a shortcut that unfortunately assists people to avoid doing what is real for atonement. It is engagement in playing a game that distracts the players from the true requirements of pursuing and gaining forgiveness.

  • Harry Joachim says:

     @RabbiMeirRabi  @KashrusEmes “Kaparos no longer serves to inspire Teshuvah [as it did when it was seen as an “exchange”] but is seen as a shortcut that unfortunately assists people to avoid doing what is real for atonement. It is engagement in playing a game that distracts the players from the true requirements of pursuing and gaining forgiveness.”
     
    You could say the same about prayer. It no longer serves to inspire people to perform Teshuvah! If waving a chicken over one’s head leads to thoughts of teshuvah, then why not? The same would apply to tashlich.

  •  @Harry Joachim  @KashrusEmes Indeed, the same can be said about prayer, and a couple of other things that we do. But you miss my point, Harry; I am not looking to reform Yiddishkeit, but to restore it. Prayer is a Halachic component of our Tradition. It is not challenge-able. Kapparos is not a Halachic component of our Tradition, it is a fashion tradition that has become a practice.

  • Elijah says:

    Kapparot is one of the more ridiculous practices of the zombies in our community.

    Somehow, in ancient times, a bunch of “check your brain at the door” types thought swinging a chicken was better than really thinking, feeling and responding to personal faults and foibles. As is common in our history, we searched for a reason as to why our life was so hard.

    Maybe one of the words in the Torah gained an additional meaning as the original language was corrupted. Bingo!!! One of the words for man now also meant rooster, to ‘solve’ our problems we could swing a chicken around our heads. In a mass frenzy, similar to buying the latest wiz bang gadget, the sheep went out and bought a bird. These are the same people, who today walk around in colourless clothing, longing for the next fatuous Chumra to go mad on. Before you know it, unprincipled Rabbis, conscious of maintaining their lively hood, supported this tumult. Rabbis, demonstrating their loyalty to aggrandising “leaders” of the community, wrote new Halacha to support the madness.

    The usual suspects on this forum with their Shtreimel cooked brains, spout Halacha. What hypocrites you are!!! In other posts, you vehemently supported Rabbi Karo’s weak ideas about the Matnot Kehuna relating to portions of animals to be gifted. Yet here, you ridicule and dismiss Karo about his opposition to pagan chicken swinging.

    What a perfect example of how Halacha is corrupted by self interest of the various “authorities”.

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