VIDEO: A Rabbi’s Plea: Wave Money, Not Chickens

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The following text appears below this video published on YouTube. It was not written or edited in anyway by YWN:

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, Orthodox Rabbi of the Pico Shul, Los Angeles, CA, pleads with the Jewish community, “Today’s travesty of kaporos transgresses major torah prohibitions and needs to be changed.”

When you practice kaparos today you are actually committing the following sins:

1) Cruelty to animals, Tzaar Baal ha Chaim — animals die of heat exhaustion and other ailments while crammed into small cages before the ritual is performed.

2) Creating Neveila — As the Chayei Adam wrote, the shochets often do not have the time to properly check their knives as they perform hundreds of cuts. When a kosher animal is killed with a unchecked and/or nicked knife – the animal is considered a nevaila and unfit for consumption. Worse yet, in some cases the people performing the ritual are not shochets at all.

3) Wanton wasting of resources, Baal Tashchis — People go hungry in cities across American and Israel, yet we are taking perfectly good food and wasting it. The ritual is creating food which is going to waste.

4) Transgressing local laws, dina d’malchus dina – Mass slaughter of animals in densely populated areas, without sanitary conditions, is against the law in Los Angeles, and likely in all other American cities. Yet, despite repeated warnings by local authorities, the kaporos industry continues.

In addition you are being the victim of unscrupulous and duplicitous behavior, Gneivas Daas. When you purchase chickens for use in the ritual you believe that the chicken, or money from the sale of the chicken, is going to tzedakah. In fact, here in America, these chickens are most often found in dumpsters. The money is pocket by the people who organize the kaporos.

Today, because it is impossible to do it in a kosher way, we must perform the ritual with money. Rabbinic sources including the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berurah are clear that when the ritual cannot be performed in a kosher way it is preferable to use money.

Please wave money – not chickens – and donate the funds to local charities for poor Jewish families.

Video features Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, Rabbi of the Pico Shul, Los Angeles, CA.

Click HERE to watch this video on a mobile device.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


39 COMMENTS

  1. Rav Bookstein makes a strong argument that shluggen kaporos using a live chicken is a big aveyrah and other alternative using a fish or silver coins is preferable. This point has also been made by Rav Nachminsky who brings down from chazal the underlying purpose of kaporos and how we can be yotzeh the mitzvah without creating the chilul hashem resulting from the annual focus on live chickens. The opposition seems more a function of a belief that because it was done this way in the alte heim, we must do it the same way today. Well, guess what, our parents and grandparents in the alte heim did many things that thankfully are no long part of our hashkafah.

  2. Some foolish no-namer who calls himself a rabbi spewed something so it must be reported? This guy from LA is hitting against Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a and whole slew of Gedolei Yisroel and Gedolei Rabbonim past and present who do kapporos with a live chicken that is then shechted.

  3. So this simpleton goes on YouTube to advertise himself with a slickly edited video promoting his treif hashkofos with an open sefer in front of him while he is ranting in order to give the false impression he is “learned”.

  4. This so-called rabbi advertises himself on his so-called “blogshul” website with a picture of himself in a cowboy hat making himself out like that Boteach guy and referring to himself as “An Oxford educated, Fulbright scholar” on his Huffington Post column.

  5. There are different, well established minhagim, and it is rude and tacky to go around saying “my minhag is right” and “your minhag is wrong”.

  6. Frum yidden have been doing kaparas with live chickens for the last hundreds of years. And all of the Sudden comes along AMERICA 2013 and we should stop?! Such נער’s! That’s the least I could say about this.

  7. Mrs. Gadolhadorah, maybe you want to give us some examples of what “our parents and grandparents in the alte heim did many things that thankfully are no long part of our hashkafah.” after all you are the “gadol hadorah”, you should be capable of this! Because after all you probably can’t even think of one because your also one of those נער’s.

  8. “Well, guess what, our parents and grandparents in the alte heim did many things that thankfully are no long part of our hashkafah.”

    What in the world are you talking about??

  9. #1: Please. The generations are getting weaker, not stronger. The minhag of kapporos was always to give the slaughtered chickens to the poor, so don’t denegrate our saintly parents and grandparents.

    Today, the minhag can be fullfilled with the same goal, as Rav Bookstein and others say, by using money and donating it to the poor.

    The minhag is the same, the goal is the same. Our anscestors had the right intentions and carried them out in a way appropriate for their time. We need to fullfil the minhag with the right intentions in a way appropriate for our time.

  10. I am sure Mr Bennet, Lapid, Bloomberg, and Weiner all agree to the same hashkafah.

    But for the rest of us to all the new Rabbis that know what hashem really wants, Thank you but no thank you.

  11. Before I make my comment I want to point out that for the past several decades I’ve performed kaparos on money instead of chickens (except on perhaps two occasions). With that said I have a real hakpada on Rabbi Bookstein!

    Rabbi Bookstein – First of all, I did not hear or see you claim anywhere that you consulted with Gedolim (or at least one Gadol) regarding your halachic claims. To me that is a sure sign that you are following your feelings instead of your logic. Logic dictates to double check that you are 100% correct and have explored all sides before paskining. We are not talking about “opinions” here, but rather a Psak that you are making (for your tzibor and anyone else that’s willing to listen to you). If you felt the need to influence Klal Yisrael on a grand scale (through your video) then it is your duty to consult Gedolim prior.
    Secondly, even if all your claims are 100% true, why are you working to uproot the minhag instead of working to improve the situation to fall under halachic guidelines. I’m sure the Gedolim would back you 100% on a campaign to improve conditions for Kaparot. Why not establish an organization that regulates the kaparot and ask the general public to only shlach kaparot at certified locations?!

    If your only tactic is to abolish this minhag I advise that you should do a lot of introspection this Rosh Hashana. Perhaps the views of PETA and their followers have crept in ever so slightly on your outlooks. The Gra states about the Holy Rambam that the philosophers of his time effected his Hashgafas a bit. If the Holy Rambam could have been affected by the views of the Goyim, all the more so us.

    Once again I emphasis that I prefer using money for kaparos instead of chickens for several reasons. Non-the-less, I would never try to uproot a minhag Yisrael that is well excepted.

    Demand for improved conditions – Yes! Demand to uproot a Minhag Yisrael – not on one’s own Daas! That take Gedolim, not Smicha!

    Kasiva V’Chasima Tova

  12. Here in London, I go to a kapporos where the chickeninare not overcrowded and when each batch is “used”, it is immediately taken away by van for slaughter in a proper environment. The process is overstaffed by efficient volunteers and it runs smoothly without tzar bal lchaim and the chicken gets the double zechus of being used for kaporos, tzedokah and a ton tov meal.

    There is no problem with shlugging kaporos with a chicken, for those that have the age-old minhag. The problem lies with unorganised, unprofessional, and unsanitary ad hoc setups, out to make a quick buck for profit or tzedokah. Reform those that do it wrong and keep the minhag!

  13. The Hebrew letters for the word Minhag reversed spell out Gehinom. Be very careful playing with minhag Yisroel. The Rashba warns that many minhogim we don’t know the reason for, actualy go back to Har Sinai.

  14. i agree with ash #18
    i do it in chevron small community small version and give the chicken myself to someone local

    in nachlaot there is a giveret who cleans and takes care of your chickens!

    its about small scale not large scale…

    and im AGAINST YWN for submitting this sort of anti-religious propoganda instead of talking about how to do a mitzva in the best way this is patronizing those who want to harm shmiras halacha kihilchasa!

  15. Information has also been leaking out the seams, that in many cases, the truckloads of birds are all spent laying hens, and basically inedible. It is a huge windfall for the factory farms to pass these has been birds on. Also note that in meat birds, there are no old roosters, they are gone as fryers at 2-4 weeks. It not quite a simple thing to pick up and swing a mature male. They are feisty and nasty fighters. Of course the posters ignoring the message and trashing the messenger will ignore this too.

  16. So many cheap shots, so much judging unfavorably…rabosai, please.

    1. This rabbi made a video for his kehilla in Los Angeles. So what? I hear they make a lot of films there. Is it a crime to know how to set up a camera?

    2. He never says that the minhag should be abolished. He’s not going up against any gedolim. He’s quoting the CA and MB that under the conditions that he’s aware of (I assume he’s not paskening for the entire planet) it’s preferable to use $.

    It’s mamash unbelievable…you guys must have some sort of sickness. This is behavior for Erev RH?

  17. #22: He didn’t make this video for his kehila in LA. He could speak to his kehila directly in person. This video is a self-promotion junket to spread his new age ideas.

  18. I too am shocked that on erev rosh hashanah people can speak with such little respect about other people
    especially you who goes by the name of “ben torah” to call this rabbi by names like simpleton and foolish.
    I am sorry but anyone that speaks like you is most certainly not a ben torah

  19. To 17

    “you are following your feelings instead of your logic”

    Logic? What Logic? The logic of any person would tell him, that HKB”H can not have any pleasure by seeing a Man pick up an animal much smaller and weaker than him, and twirl it around his head and kill it. Some people want to give HKB”H even more Nachas, so they step on the animal.

  20. The Rav’s arguments are logical and based on clearly articulated reasoning. You can disagree but on a minhag where there are obviously alternative forms of observance, the Rav is making the case for a more contemporary view of how to be yotezh the mitzvah of shluggen kaporos while being mindful of several of of yiddeshkeit’s most important values. To those of you who discount the importance of those values for the sake of simply continuing to do things the way they were done in prior generations,you are entitled to your views as is the Rav entitled to his.

  21. Bookstein is entitled to his view and can follow his view. But when he disparages an ancient Jewish minhag that is followed by a large percentage of religious Jewry including many gedolei hador, with baloney he picks up from the secular world’s kooks like PETA-type animal-rights activists and starts demanding animals be treated like humans (“humanely” Bookstein says on his website) then he shall expect a rigorous defense of Torah-true Judaism.

  22. aryeh111 – I must agree with you that many commentaries here are throwing unnecessary cheap shots at this Rabbi, including rudely referring to him in a disrespectful manner. This is certainly not called for and shocking to reading especially at this time of the year! To be honest, even though my comment was in no way meant to be an attack, non-the-less, I was hesitant whether to submit a comment at this time or not. I decided in the end to direct my comment to Rabbi Bookstein himself (assuming he’d read it) to give him food for thought. I’m sure he is well meaning, but sometimes we overlook aspects that may change our decision. That is what I was supplying.

    As far as your defense for him I must respectfully disagree with you. If he was speaking ONLY to his Kehilla there would be no need to make a profession video like he did (BTW – the video was well done).
    Although you are right that he never outright stated that the minhag should be abolished, essentially that is his goal (at least in metropolitan Jewish communities) being that he feels that there are no practical means of improving conditions. But who says he’s right?! Who did he consult with that stated that there are no means to insure that the birds can be shipped, shechted, and packaged in a way that following 100% with Halachic guidelines?! Did you hear him quote anybody in his video to back up his claims?! I didn’t!

    Sometimes we mean well, but non-the-less our actions if not scrutinized can lead to the wrong results. I personally feel this is one of those times.

  23. BS”D
    I’d like to back up #22. And I’d also like to express my, let’s call it, frustration with a large number of the comments. How many people accused Rabbi Bookstein of trying to abolish the holy minhag of kaporos? Did he say that in his video? I didn’t hear that — maybe you can give me the time-stamp where he did. Did he disparage an ancient minhag? I didn’t hear that — maybe you can give me the time-stamp where he did? Is he playing with a minhag Yisroel? I didn’t hear that — maybe you can give me the time-stamp where he did.

    For all of those who ranted against this video, tell me, then, if I can make the following diyuk: You would have no problem taking part in kaporos even if you knew that (1) the chickens are dying from suffocation etc., (2) the shochet’s knife is likely to be posul, (3)the chicken will end up in a dumpster, (4) the money that you spent will end up in some non-poor-person’s pocket, and (5) the process violates city law. Is this correct? Am I the only person who finds that to be problematic? What are you arguing about?

    And doesn’t the rabbi in the video imply, then, that if it were that (1) the chickens are treated humanely, (2) the sh’chita is done k’das v’kdin, (3) the chicken will end up on a poor Yid’s plate, (4) the money will end up in some poor Yid’s pocket, and (5) the city would grant a permit, he would be 100% behind the performance of kaporos with chickens?

    As for those who suggest that the rabbi try to fix the situation, it seems like a good idea and it might very well be possible for next year, but he’s talking about the reality as it stands for this year (based on past years’ results). What can he do at this late date? [Oh, I’m sure people will suggest that he made this video last year and just couldn’t wait to air it this year. You are free to think that. Seems to be a lot of that kind of thinking among the comments. And there’s little I could say to change such a view. I could just point out that casting such aspersions and having such cynical intentions makes it very hard to get along in the world — but that’s just a practical observation.]

    Meanwhile, I’ll shlug my chickens this year, BE”H, in Eretz Yisroel with the emuna that Hashem will be shomer on tamim like me who trust the members of his kehila to make sure that kaporos are done the right way, k’derech Yisroel Saba, with poor people to benefit. I will also give tzedaka — couldn’t hurt, right?

  24. #31 rabbiyy – Let’s take for granted that everything you said is correct. If so, Rabbi Bookstein now has 12 month to work on a strategy to make major changes in the industry. If he does, I will humbly (and happily) bow to you (figuratively of course). If not, then it is clear evidence that his campaign this year was not done L’shem Shimayim. I’m willing to patiently wait. What about you?

  25. Reading comprehension. It is a skill that is clearly lacking in just every single response to Rabbi Bookstein.

    How does this concluding statement imply we should “do away” with a minhag of klal yisrael?

    “Today, because it is impossible to do it in a kosher way, we must perform the ritual with money. Rabbinic sources including the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berurah are clear that when the ritual cannot be performed in a kosher way it is preferable to use money.”

    Now that the Aguda has issued a Kol Koreh that says the same thing, will the commenters now apply their invective towards the signers of the Kol koreh as well?

  26. BS”D
    #32. I hear what you are saying. #28 makes the same point, albeit a bit less straightforwardly (is that a word?). Your response only highlights my frustrations with many of the other comments. Argue on the merits. If you think Rabbi Bookstein is fabricating his allegations — and you have some ability to back it up — then bring on the debate. Many comments did not clarify that there are major doubts about the facts that Rabbi Bookstein alleges. Like I implied (as do you), if his facts are right, there is no argument — at least regarding kaporos in LA.

  27. BS”D
    #33, I hear you — it’s always exciting to catch a person in his not-so-perfect motives. But, as you see from what I wrote above, I’m prepared to say that even if Rabbi B is acting not l’shem shomoyim, even if he has a “reformer” agenda, we have only his video to go by (mind you, if any commenter had brought evidence from beyond the video of any of Rabbi B’s allegedly questionable agenda or anti-Torah views, that would be a legitimate part of the discussion, but I don’t recall seeing any such evidence offered). And if Rabbi B’s facts are correct — and that might be a big “if,” I really don’t know — then he makes a good point about the use of chickens in LA, even if it would be the truth that he has a reformer agenda behind the scenes.

    In other words, why do I have to know the ulterior motives in this case? Bottom line: let’s just talk facts and halacha and not worry about a person’s agenda.

    And if we do wait for a year (I’m happy to wait) and Rabbi B does not make efforts to change the industry, does that really prove that he acted sh’lo l’shem shomoyim this year. Uh, dilma he makes the cheshbon that it’s not worth the hishtadlus to clean up this industry just for the benefit of one day of the year, when he has other things that need his time and effort? In other words, I’m not saying that he is acting l’sham shomoyim or not, I’m just saying that his lack of effort to fix the problem will not prove it to me one way or another. If, however, he starts talking about, for example, changing or abandoning minhagey Yisroel in the name of modernity, ch’v, then he’ll lose me.

  28. Erev Rosh Hashanah 5779 ” BS”D
    Kaparos Alert: According to Rav Y. S. Eliyashev, Z”L, chickens must be fed every 24 hours. Some of the Kaparos in Lakewood do not feed their chickens but send them back to the slaughter. The chickens were fed last at 9:00 PM Tuesday night, they will be shechted Thursday . One must feed his chickens before he may eat, therefore one may not eat after 9:00 PM after the Taanis, till sometime on Thursday after the Shechita. ALERT! About 25-35% arrive to the shechita, dead and you were not yoi’tzei kaparos.
    Do all your inquiries of the TAT Kaparos re: above. See the letter of the Lakewood Rabbonim.
    NOTE: Schwartz’s and Mehadrin Kaparos do not have the above concerns.