Thursday, September 28, 2006

Attacking The Custom Of Kapparot

Here's another silly article from ynetnews. Personally I use money for this custom, but to attack those that use chickens is really pretty silly.

The first kapparot basher is, you guessed it, a Reform "Rabbi":
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, from the Reform Movement, claims that this custom bespeaks a lack of compassion and mercy, attributes that generally characterize the Jewish people.

“Slaughtering chickens is an unfit custom that goes against Jewish feelings regarding animals”, he explains. “Judaism has always emphasized that the concepts of atonement, soul searching and repentance are dependent on an inner spiritual endeavor that man undertakes to correct his ways. The concept of Kapparot shifts the emphasis to external ritualistic expressions”.

Kariv contends that the ritual slaughter of the chickens, and the hardships they encounter on the way, cause unjustified suffering. “Anyone who walks through the markets can see that the manner in which the chickens are held before the Kapparot is insufferable. There is no veterinary supervision and no concern for the feelings of these poor creatures.”
I suggest that Kariv open the book of Leviticus before he opens his mouth. But then again, He and his colleagues are smarter than God, and they have already taken out any reference to the Temple and animal sacrifices out of their prayer books.

Next in line to bash the custom is Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
“It does not make sense that we are asking to purify ourselves on Yom Kippur through the slaughter of a helpless animal,” says Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“Waving a slaughtered chicken around the head is a pagan custom that should be abolished. The slaughter poisons and hardens man’s heart. It is absurd that people are asking for life by taking the life of another creature, especially when Kapparot can be done with money”.

Vanderbrook, a social worker by profession, claims that in light of the welfare crisis in this country it is better to think of more efficient ways to practice Kapparot: “Needy people, who once received the slaughtered chicken, would today prefer a cooked and prepared chicken, and would always prefer money. In many cases the chickens are not given to poor people, but are cruelly tossed to the side."

As a child, Vanderbrook experienced Kapparot and to this day, she claims that she will never forget the sights and sounds.

“We would buy chickens a few days before Yom Kippur and they would wander through our garden,” she retells, “Before Yom Kippur the butcher would arrive and I would go to my room and hide under the covers in order to not hear the cries of the chickens. It was a difficult and cruel experience. Children who are exposed to this custom either become cruel adults or are traumatized.
Yeah, right. The ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem are just full of cruel or traumatized people. By the way, are these the same animal rights activists that were so concerned about cats and dogs when people were cruelly thrown out of their homes?

The article does end on a good note with a quote from Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu:
Despite this many people will still choose to continue slaughtering the chickens. One can hope that they will try to prevent any abuse on the way to the slaughter. The chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, explains that Jewish ritual slaughter is the least painful way to kill chicken or cattle.

According to him, kosher Jewish slaughter is “ done in a way that the chicken feels no pain”. When it comes to the custom of Kapparot, Rabbi Eliyahu says that one must be very careful in how one handles the animals, and “that one should take extreme care not to harm them”.

“The Torah does not forbid the use of animals for work or for food, but the Torah does teach us to be considerate of them and forbids cruelty towards animals”, he stresses. “This is a very important commandment; Judaism preceded the world by 3000 years in regard to its concern for animals.”
For those who would like to learn more about the custom here are a couple of links.


Anonymous said...

I personally won't be doing kapparot, although for vastly different reasons than whether or not it's cruel to chickens.
I have heard that many Ethipoians have a similar practice of throwing bread to pigeons...

I won't be doing it with money either...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing you or anyone else in the Orthodox community, because it's a custom for many many years, but I won't be doing it because I don't believe that it's a Jewish concept:

that it is based much more in superstition and even Avoda Zara.

If you doubt me on this, please refer to the Shulchan Aroch, who is against it, or the Ramba(n), or Chai Garon.

The Ramba(m) doesn't even mention it, as far as I'm aware, even though it was around during his time, and I'm guessing that he would have been horrified at the mere idea.

I think this may be a case of the Reform "Rabbi" (At least it's a guy) being right for the wrong reasons.

For the money, I very humbly suggest that you would simply make sure to give Tzedaka to someone who really needs it, and not worry about the waving.

-Have a meaningful Tzom and blessings for this New Year...


Cosmic X said...


May you also have a good year and a meaningful fast.

You are correct that certain rabbis objected to the custom but others, like the Rama and the Ari, supported it. (See the link provided at the end of the post.)

JoeSettler said...

(Alkmyst was quoting another article on the subject)

Anyway, waving money over your head is plain wrong. Money is for spending, for saving, and if you're rich, lighting up cigars. Waving it is wrong and an invitation to others to steal it.

Slaughtering carrots and tomatoes is also wrong. Fruits and vegetables have as much right to life as does any other living creature. We're all made out of DNA and your DNA is no redder than a potato's.

Stop vegetarianism. It's just plain cruel.

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