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Sydney - Australian Rabbis Debate The Importance Of Kapparot Practice

Published on: September 15, 2008 09:23 AM
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Sydney - With less than a month before Yom Kippur, Australian Jews are preparing for the high holy days and several thousand are planning to practise the ancient custom of kapparot -– where a person’s sins are transferred to a chicken that is swung over their head and then slaughtered.

Traditionally the chicken meat, or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor. 

In the United States in recent years, kapparot has been contested by groups, such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who have called for an investigation into the ­practice. 

“I have been to kapporot in America and it’s shocking,” said Rabbi Moshe Gutnick from the Sydney Beth Din and the administrative rabbi of the NSW Kashrut Authority.

With many thousands of people performing kapparot, the birds often die before they can be slaughtered properly and are thrown into dumpsters rather than distributed to charity.

Rabbi Gutnick said the story in Australia was significantly different.


“Here it is done very carefully, in a very sensitive fashion.” The rabbi added that “causing the chickens distress goes against the spirit of Torah law, not to be cruel to animals, which is not something you want to do before Yom Kippur”.

The Kashrut Authority oversees the process in Sydney and averages about 800 chickens a year.

Melbourne’s Rabbi Yaakov Sprung from Mizrachi noted that many people preferred to give money rather than use the chickens.

He said it was more important at this time of year to spend time on “personal introspection, proper intent and ... one’s own prayer, attendance at shul on a daily basis not just on Shabbat, support of local day schools and yeshivahs, plus a greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships, here and in support of Eretz Yisrael”.

Until all those boxes have been ticked, Rabbi Sprung said he doesn’t intend to push his community into taking on the custom of kapparot with live chickens. 

The rabbis disagreed on whether giving money was strictly equal to the practice of using live chickens.

Rabbi Gutnick said “witnessing the animal’s life being taken is supposed to evoke within that person’s soul an awareness of the tenuousness of their own life, evoking a spirit of repentance”.

And if there is no ­sincere repentance, he added, the killing of the chicken does not give the person automatic atonement.

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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM Abraham Subenhaus Says:

We use tzedaka in a handkerchief.
If it was good enough in the times of the Bais Hamikdash to bring money to Yerushalayim, tzedakah is certainly fine today when there are no korbonos (actual animals).
It also is better forthechildren not to watch Tzar baalei chaim and let them instead focus on how tzedaka can be used to gain forgiveness while help others at the same time.


 Sep 15, 2008 at 11:04 AM yossele Says:

More nonsense from PETAs media machine.


 Sep 15, 2008 at 12:28 PM anonymous Says:

Abraham. What is your comparison of kapporros to tzedakah??

One is a minhag from his fathers and the other is tzedakah!! If schluugging kapporros is your minhag you do it and hilchos and minhagiey tzeddakah now or in the time of the bais hamikdash is irrelevant (unless one has limited funds so the kapporros is tzeddakah and either the chicken or its cash requirment goes to tzeddakah)!!

If kapporross is not your minhag do not belittle or mock this holy minhag!


 Sep 15, 2008 at 03:00 PM Haloche Says:

Anyone who has any comments to make comparing kapporos with chickens to tsedaka, should at least lern shulchan oruch which clearly prefares chickens


 Sep 15, 2008 at 07:18 PM Anonymous Says:

there is a whole siman in shulchan oruch dealing with minhag kapores. the ones telling people that it is not so important or there is conditions are similar to the PETA who are trying ro get rid of minhag yisroel.

according to chabad teachings, one must have mesiras nefesh even for just a minhag yisroel. (see sicha regarding why matbilin is first in seder of 4 questions).

maybe Rabbi Gutnick should join mizrachi, and stop calling himself and speaking on behalf of chabad!


 Sep 15, 2008 at 08:21 PM amarican living in sydney Says:

How can a Rabbi knock the whole american jewry and say kaparos is shocking there . Kaporos is the same world wide. May we all have a kesiva vachasima tova. And stop talking loshon hara on our jewish brothers in America.


 Sep 15, 2008 at 10:24 PM TorahTruth Says:

To anonymous, if you ever actually studied that Siman in Shulchan Aruch you will find that the Ramo says that you should NOT use a chicken because it is Darkei Emori (looks like Avodah Zorah)... check it out!


 Sep 15, 2008 at 11:45 PM fan of jewish traditions Says:

Kaporos is jewish minhag and should be kept at all expence. May we all have a sweet new year.


 Sep 16, 2008 at 04:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Kaporos was opposed by MANY gedoilim; even rishoinim, including:

* The Rambam
* The Ramban
* The Rashba
* The Mechaber

They generally held that kaporos is a pagan ritual, and is in conflict with the spirit of Yiddishkeit.


 Sep 16, 2008 at 08:13 AM to torah truth Says:

looking for davka a white one is darkei hoemori


 Sep 17, 2008 at 09:18 AM TorahTruth Says:

Sorry to, that is not what it says... it says the entire minhag is Darkei Emori... sometime the truth hurts :-)


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