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How An Animal Protection Organization Rescued A Chicken Named “Chesed” From A Crown Heights Kaparos Center

kapn.jpgThe following is a press release submitted to YWN by an organization named Farm Sanctuary. They claim to be “the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization”. We found it entertaining. Perhaps you will too. (Below is the entire unedited text sent to YWN)

Today, as millions of Jews observe Yom Kippur, Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, rescued a chicken, named Chesed, meaning mercy or loving-kindness in Hebrew, from sacrificial slaughter during the Jewish ritual of kapparot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This chicken will join the more than 200 other chickens the organization has rescued from kapparot rituals in New York City and the surrounding boroughs over the past three years.
The chicken was rescued by Brooklyn resident Wayne Johnson, who witnessed a massive kapparot gathering at a seminary in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn on Saturday night. At 9:30 p.m., a large truck transporting approximately 2,000 chickens, packed four to a crate, arrived at the seminary. A long line of people waited to purchase chickens for $13 apiece, which they then swung over their heads while reciting a prayer before taking them over to a table where a butcher slit their throats with a knife. Around 11 p.m., a man shoved a chicken into the arms of Johnson, who had made it known he did not approve of the inhumane ritual, and told him he could have the bird. Johnson gladly accepted the frightened chicken and took him to his Brooklyn Heights home to await safe transport to Farm Sanctuary’s shelter in upstate New York. Halfway through the subway ride home, Johnson says the chicken began to relax and nestled into his arms.
“Saving Chesed is in keeping with the true spirit of Yom Kippur,” said Farm Sanctuary Executive Director Allan Kornberg. “Chesed’s life will serve as a reminder to the thousands of visitors who come to our sanctuary that all life is deserving of mercy and loving-kindness.”
The rescue comes just days after Dr. Allan Kornberg, Executive Director for Farm Sanctuary, issued the following statement regarding the sacrificial slaughter of chickens during the Jewish ritual of kapparot:
“Sadly, some members of the Jewish faith who observe the kapparot ritual still commit animal cruelty during this ceremony by swinging chickens over their heads and then slicing their throats with razors. Those who participate in this form of kapparot believe that their sins will be transferred into the chicken’s body and extinguished along with the bird’s life, but many distinguished rabbis throughout history have argued that treating chickens in this manner violates both kosher food standards and the Torah’s teachings on cultivating compassion for animals. In fact, an Israeli court ruled in 2007 that killing chickens for kapparot violates the country’s animal welfare laws, codifying in modern law what these sages have been saying for centuries.
“To fully grasp the ethical objections to using chickens for kapparot, it is crucial to understand that swinging and slaughtering is not the beginning but merely the end of the birds’ suffering. First, most of these chickens are born and raised in dark, crowded warehouses on factory farms. Then, after being packed tightly together on trucks and driven long distances to large cities, chickens may wait for days in cramped cages before kapparot even begins, often lacking food, water and shelter from inclement weather. Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, has firsthand experience with the traumatic suffering caused by kapparot, having rescued hundreds of chickens from rituals in New York City over the years and lovingly cared for them at our shelter for abused and neglected farm animals in upstate New York.
“Fortunately, celebrating kapparot need not involve animals at all, because Rabbinical law stipulates that there are humane ways to partake of this sacrament. That is, even the most orthodox among us can spare a chicken’s suffering by making a monetary donation to a worthy cause instead of sacrificing a bird, and those wanting to experience an authentic kapparot ceremony can put their material offering in a bag and use it as part of the ritual in the same way they would a live chicken. In contrast to slaughtering innocent animals, practicing kapparot humanely is consistent with the prayers offered up during the high holy days to rachamim (compassion and sensitivity), and is in keeping with the true spirit of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)

18 Responses

  1. Aww so touching, maybe create a movie. Call it Saving Private Chessed!


    Why are you giving credence to these quacks? These fringe liberal kooks die quickly without publicity. Why should the Jews give them a platform?

  2. I seriously respect Mr. Johnson for this. Getting on an NYC subway with a chicken in your hands sounds like a sure way to get attention.

    We recently adopted a young cat who was thrown out of his previous house (5 months old, then) for some reason and had been living outside next to our house since then. He has been with us for 3 months now and B”H he is getting ever stronger and bigger.

    I myself don’t do kapporos on a chicken – I use money instead. The Mechaber himself (my wife is a descendant of him) says that the minhag of kapporos should be abolished.

    Kapporos on a chicken (or fish) is a disgusting minhag which I personally strongly oppose. I do not openly protest against it (after all, my rabbonim do it), but I myself will never do it.

    It is contrary to everything I stand for, it is contrary to what I perceive to be righteousness and it is completely contrary to what I feel during the aseres yemei teshuvoh.

  3. What is entertaining about this article?????????????
    You should not allow such garbage onto your site.
    As a site with the name Yeshiva World you have a responsibility to publish kosher information.
    You can find something more entertaining than that.

  4. to #3: Actually, kapparos with a chicken is the preferred minhag, as I was told.
    Chas v’sholom you should disgrace our minhagim hakedoshim! Shame on you!!!!!

    Who are you to preach righteousness?
    Our rov once said that if someone doesn’t eat meat because of principle, then he is an apikorus since he claims to be more merciful than Hashem, who created animals to serve us.
    I’m sorry if you find that disgusting.

  5. This is disgusting liberal trash. Even if someone is against kaporos with chickens, this article is written trying to make Orthodox Jewery look archaic and cruel.

  6. #3: As a self proclaimed baal-tshuvoh (for which we all have our highest regards) perhaps it behooves you to have a bit more respect for minhag Yisroel. Yiddishkeit does not depend on how you feel about it, (or on how it was done in your native Apeldoorn).
    A statement like “a disgusting minhag which I personally strongly oppose” whilst admitting that your Rabbonim do it, sounds like bigotry.

  7. I have no problem doing kaporos with a chicken if it was available to me. I would have loved to take these animal rights wacko kooks and swung them around my head. These people are vile to the nth degree. They seek to abolish sh’chita as well as any other use of meat.

    Der Aybishter zul shoyn nekoma nemen oyf di b’hayma lovers!

  8. Who said it was a “chesed” to save this chicken’s life? Maybe it was a gilgul and needed a tikkun for its neshomo by being shechted for kapporos.

  9. Rashi mentions a custom mentioned by the Geonim that “twenty two or fifteen days” before Rosh Hashono people would take baskets – one for each child – and plant legumes and the like, and before Rosh Hashono would wave them around their heads and say, “This should be instead of this [person], and it should be my exchange, and it should be my substitute.” The baskets would then be thrown into the river. In this Rashi we find the concept of saving oneself from a harsh Heavenly decree by it being effected on another object.

    The Maharal writes that the Gemoro implies the same. The Gemoro brings the story of Rabbi Akiva who was travelling with a donkey, and rooster and a candle. Upon being refused entry to a certain city, Rabbi Akiva had no choice but to sleep overnight in the woods outside the city. During the night a lion killed the donkey, a cat devoured the rooster, and a wind extinguished the candle. The next morning he learned that the city had been attacked by murderous thieves and he had been miraculously saved. The Maharal explains that the same terrible fate that the townspeople had suffered, was to befall Rabbi Akiva as well. However, he was substituted by his donkey (representing his physical body), his rooster (instead of his soul) and the candle (instead of his intellect). The Maharal concludes that from this Gemoro we have an “absolute proof to take a chicken for a kaporo for the soul on erev Yom Kippur.”

    The Remo brings this custom in Shulchon Oruch and writes that it is a custom of pious people and should not be disregarded.

    In addition to the aforementioned dimension of kaporos being a “substitute” for the individual (as the Mishna Berura writes that the individual should imagine that all that is transpiring to the chicken should in fact have happened to him), there is another reason which is brought down in Eliya Rabo, that the kaporos is an atonement for the sins of the person. This being the case, it is likened to an obligatory sacrifice that each individual has to bring. (The halachic implications of these opinions will later be discussed.)

    However the Kitzur Shulchon Oruch writes that the individual should not think that the chicken is literally his atonement. It should merely serve as a reminder that all of these things should have happened to him, thus arousing him to repent fully.

    It is obvious from the authorities that the main part of the custom of kaporos is the slaughtering of the chicken. Especially considering the abovementioned objective of kaporos, that the individual realise that everything happening to the chicken should have happened to him.

    Furthermore one of the criterion mentioned with regards to kaporos is that it should be conducted in the early morning. Both these points are evident in the words of the authorities.

    In Shulchan Aruch the mechaber writes that this which they are accustomed to do kaporos on the eve of Yom Kippur to slaughter a chicken etc. Similarly in the Mogen Avrohom in the name of the Arizal and the Shalo.

    The Rosh (Yoma 8:23), the Mordechai (at the beginning of his notes to Masechet Yoma), and the Tur (Orach Chaim 605) record this practice (mentioned in the aforementioned Rashi on Shabbos 81b) with approval. They, however, mention that the usual practice is to take a chicken and slaughter it. They also note that the ritual is performed on Erev Yom Kippur. The Rosh explains that the Gemara sometimes refers to a chicken as a Gever (see Yoma 20b), which also means man. Thus, a chicken is an appropriate substitute for man. He also offers a pragmatic explanation: that chickens are readily available and less expensive than larger animals such as a ram.

    The Chayei Adam (144:4) and Mishna Berura (605:2) explain that the idea of Kapparos is modeled after the idea of a Korban, as explained by the Ramban (Vayikra 1:9). The Ramban writes that fundamentally the individual who sinned deserves to have his life taken as punishment for violating Hashem’s Law. However, Hashem in His mercy permits us to substitute an animal. When presenting a Korban, one should feel that his blood deserves to be spilled and that his body deserves to be burned, had it not been for Hashem’s merciful permission to offer a Korban as a substitute. Thus, offering a Korban constitutes a reenactment of Akeidas Yitzchak. Similarly, the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berura write that during the Kapparos ritual, one should contemplate that one deserves to be slaughtered just as the Kapparos chicken is slaughtered and that the chicken is a substitute. See Kaf Hachaim (605:10) for other explanations for Kapparos.

    The Rashba does acknowledge that all of the Ashkenazic rabbis of his time practiced Kapparos and that the practice is recorded in the writings of Rav Hai Gaon. The Rama notes that this practice is recorded as early as the Geonic period and is the accepted practice in all Ashkenazic communities. The Rama regards the practice as a Minhag Vasikin, a venerated practice that one must not neglect. The practice recorded in the Rama is to slaughter a chicken for every family member.

    The Ben Ish Chai (Parshas Vayelech 2), Kaf Hachaim (605:8), and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechaveh Daat 2:71) record that Sephardic Jews have adopted this custom despite the opposition of Rav Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch. An explanation for this change is that the Ari zt”l enthusiastically embraced this practice (as noted by the Magen Avraham 605:1) based on his Kabbalistic approach. The Ari zt”l has an enormous impact on Sephardic practice in a wide variety of areas.

    The Mishna Berura cites the Pri Megadim who rules that Kapparos may be performed throughout the Aseres Yemai Teshuva. Indeed, Rashi records that this ritual is performed on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Accordingly, the Mishna Berura suggests that Kapparot be performed a day or two before Erev Yom Kippur to relieve the stress on the Shochtim. Rav Ovadia Yosef writes that Kapparos may be performed throughout the entire Aseres Yemai Teshuva.

  10. #2 is smartest. They’re after shehita and for that reason this kornberg should be put in his place – in the coop with the chickens. Doesn’t he admit that millions of male chicks are being fed live into a meat grinder every week in this country. While kosher slaughtering is the most humane death. By jews doing kaparot we atone for our sins and keep the whole world alive for another year so we are saving all the animals (including him) in the world from death just by slaughtering a few chickens so poor people could eat them. Is this kornfield a nut? Would he rather entire populations wiped out? If seir hamishtaleach was going down this dope would claim animal cruelty. The only takanah for this fellow would be to be in a room with a thousand mosquitos with strict orders not to hurt any of them.

  11. #3: “Kapporos on a chicken (or fish) is a disgusting minhag which I personally strongly oppose. I do not openly protest against it (after all, my rabbonim do it), but I myself will never do it.”

    firstly; If your rabbonim say you should and you never had a minhag not to do kaporos with a chicken then that is exactly what you should be doing.

    secondly; writing as you did on a open forum probably constitutes “openly protest”.

    now a retorical question… would you be willing to take a sheep to the Beis Hamikdash, push down on its head with all your might and then slit its throat before sprinkeling its blood all over the place?

    back to the article… are there any by laws that forbid carrying live farm animals on the NY subway? maybe Mr. Wayne Johnson has contrevened them and faces a fine or arrest

  12. I love chickens; fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken soup, curried chicken, barbecue chicken, stuffed chicken. But, I like to play with them before they are slaughtered.

  13. #3,

    The Mechaber (whom your wife is a decendant of) opposes Kaparos with money as well. He maintained the whole thing is of a faren influance – nothing to do with cruelty to animals.

    The Arizal, however, did it himself with a chicken – I guess not as rightous as you.

  14. #17′

    “all those who don’t” have nothing to do with cruelty to animals either. And any way, for your knowledge, the Arizal is usually the last word on such manors.

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