Israel: Kaporos Under Fire Earlier than Usual


This year’s anti-kaporos campaign in Israel appears to have begun earlier than usual, well before Rosh Hashanah. There are Rabbis who feel that the minhag should not be done with a chicken, citing shechitah and other concerns, and among those is Rabbi Avi Zarki, the Rav of N. Tel Aviv, known in Israel as the “Rabbi of the Celebrities”, referring to the elite wealthy northern Tel Aviv population. He feels that the minhag with chickens is צער בעלי חיים and therefore, it should be avoided.

Kikar Shabbat interviewed the rabbi, who is quoted as saying that “today, the minhag is mamosh avoda zara”. He adds that he basis his opinion on rulings of gedolei yisrael, citing the Rashba, Ramban, and the Beis Yosef, who wrote מה שנהגו ליקח תרנגול לזכר ותרנגולת לנקבה יש בזה משום דרכי האמורי

Rav Zarki quotes the Mechaber, as well as the others in support of his opinion. “People believe they can commit aveiros during the year and on erev Yom Kippur take a chicken and swing it around over their heads and they are done. This is nonsense”.

“In accordance with Halacha, it is preferable to give money to fulfill the mitzvah. There is a Halachic problem with the shechitah due to the pressure, the time element, and the lack of time to properly inspect the knife. Perhaps a damaged knife is used for the shechitah. In addition, many of the chickens die before the shechitah.

“There is also the בצער בעלי חיים issue, and for this there is no mechila. The birds are pushed and shoved into the cages and they are too crowded. They are literally stuffed in, often without any food or water”.

He concludes that based on his information; there has been a steady decline in the minhag over recent years.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. The Ramabam, in Moreh Nevuchim, writes, that the M’kor for the Mitzvah of Korbonus is, that, that was the world’s meathod of worshipping their respective gods, so it was easy to encourage the Yidden to likewise.
    So we see, why, when the Yidden left E”Y during the 2nd Churban, to a world that stopped doing sacrifices, they also discontinued.

  2. First of all, this issue is NOT part of a broad attack by anti-semitim on yiddeshkeit, as some often characterize the recent debates over such minhagim as M’Peh. Nor is it some big conspiracy to sterilize how we observe halacha. There are articles going back nearly 100 years about the minhag of using live chickens for kapores because of the filth, stench and בצער בעלי חיים

    There is no debate that the minhag can best be observed with a few coins and then giving tzadakah, or likewise using shlugging kaporos with a fish, a goat or any kosher animal and giving the meat to the needy. The issue is narrow and should not become another forum for those who cry anti-semitism anytime there is legitimate disagreement over whether a minhag is still appropriate.

  3. To merely quote the view of the Sefaradic Rishonim is to bury one’s head in the sand, to pretend that the Land is not chock-full of Ashkenazim who follow other, also legitimate, views of the Rishonim of Ashkenaz who support and advocate the practice.

  4. The stench and filth caused by this custom is an atrocity.

    People who want to do it should do it by a slaughter house, an industrial area, or an isolated place. It certainly should not be done in a residential or commercial area.

  5. Another issue is the source of the birds. Chicken raised for meat are rushed to market weight and slaughtered at 7 weeks old, and males, or fryers even sooner. The birds that show up at kappores events are generally spent layers (hens) that can be three years old, and they are basically inedible. The sheltered, city raised folks may have no clue that they are being hoodwinked, nor do they get it that to raise and swing a healthy, adult rooster in no small feat.