MK Lipman on the Minhag of Kaporos & Rav Efrati’s Response

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lipThe following was taken in English from the Facebook page of MK (Yesh Atid) Rabbi Dov Lipman. It appears as a column in the daily Ynet as well he reports on the Facebook page.

“A few days from now all Jews will experience Yom Kippur. While all of us commemorate this special day differently, there is one common denominator – praying to God for compassion – compassion on us as individuals, for our families, and for our nation and state. We ask Him to shower us its blessings and protect us from harm

“Quite shockingly, on Erev Yom Kippur, in a ritual aimed at achieving Divine mercy and atonement, many act in a cruel manner towards animals. Chickens are held in small cages without food or water, oftentimes in terrible heat. The chickens are then bound, swung above the heads of those seeking

“The time has come for a call to go out from the State of Israel putting an end to this practice. This call has already come out from Torah leaders in years past. The Rashba (Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, 13th century Spain) demanded that what he termed as a pagan ceremony be removed from his city and the Ramban, a contemporary of his, also came out against the practice. It is no wonder that the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) teaches that one should avoid this practice, coining it a “foolish practice.” The significance of these giants in our tradition demanding an end to this practice carries significant weight. The effort to stop the practice cannot be considered “anti-religious” or the like because it has the backing of such great religious figures

“And, the call is not to cease the custom entirely. The practice of using coins which one waves over his head and then gives to charity is well documented and provides an option for continuing the overall custom while not causing any unnecessary pain to animals. In modern times, Rav Kaduri asked that people use this option instead of harming chickens. The great Torah commentator Rashi (11th century France) teaches that an option exists to use flowers for this ritual. So even those who feel committed to tradition and seek to continue the custom of (cut off).

“The time has come for our State to take a stand against this practice. The High Holiday season reminds us about our mission to be a “light onto the nations.” Right before the climactic Neilah prayer on Yom Kippur we read the Book of Yonah which teaches about the responsibility of the Jewish people to inspire the world toward a belief in God and living morally and righteously. The prayers are replete with our hope that all of mankind embrace the civil code which Judaism introduced to the world. This must manifest itself in Israel leading the world in its care for the animal population and, thus, inspiring all humans to live according to this and other core values of ours

“I ask all readers to not use chickens this year when performing the kaparot ritual. It is time to do what is right. Use money. Use flowers. But don’t cause unnecessary pain to animals – especially not on the day before Yom Kippur. King David taught that God has compassion on all His creations. During this special time when we ask God for compassion and bless us with a wonderful new year, let’s demonstrate that we, too, live with this trait of compassion.”

Rabbi Yosef Efrati Shlita Responds:

Srugim asks: Rabbi, how is it permissible to make atonement with chickens when this is cruelty to animals? We wave the chicken around over our heads until it is dizzy, break bones, and then kill them. Why should the bird suffer because of my sins?

Rav Efrati: HKBH has commanded us to fulfill his mitzvos and this includes throwing the Se’ir La’azazel on Yom Kippur to break its bones and shatter the animal. This is part of the kapora ritual and the matter of cruelty to animals is pushed aside towards our atonement.

While here it is a minhag and not a mitzvah, one may certainly wave a chicken over one’s head gently, then slaughter it and give it to the poor. We don’t wave it until it gets dizzy and we are not breaking its bones. This is what those who hate Torah fabricate to mock the minhagim of our holy mothers and fathers.

The minhag of Kaporos is permitted and there is not an issue of cruelty to animals as some claim. However there is no obligation to make it more difficult for the chicken and one should wave it gently, not aggressively. There is a chessed by giving food to the poor. If only we could emulate the actions of our holy mothers and fathers. Those claiming otherwise are mocking the Rishonei France and Ashkenaz who were stringent to perform this. While the Rambam and Rashba opposed the minhag, as is ruled in Shulchan Aruch, this was permitted even back to the days of the Geonim. One performing Kaporos is in line with the Rema who states ‘אין לשנות כי הוא מנהג ותיקין’.

A legitimate concern is the shochet operating under such conditions and pressure and this is why the Chayei Adom preferred money in performance of Kaporos. However if the shochet is of proper mind and abilities, there is no reason not to perform Kaporos with a chicken.

In conclusion, one may perform the mitzvah with money or a chicken but one may not mock the mitzvah and one may not introduce issues of cruelty to animals for it is not relevant.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

26 COMMENTS

  1. Memo to Rav Efrati;
    Seir lazazal is min Hatorah, once a year, during the times of Bet Hamikdash and money cannot be substituted.. You cannot compare it to minhag where thousands of chickens are abused for no good reason.
    Especially, when so many Gedolim were and many still are,very much against it.
    Am I missing something or did tsuvah and cheshbon hanefesh become secondary to all of this ?

  2. It is commendable that Rabbi Lipman has compassion for animals, but where is his compassion for the thousands of human beings in Israel who are hungry because of his and his cohort’s actions?

  3. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Was Mr Lipman always against Minhagei Yisrael and that’s why he joined the anti Torah movement? Or did his joining the anti Torah movement cause his mind to corrupt and become anti Minhag Yisrael?

    Minhag Yisrael Torah hi!
    Doing kaparot with chickens is al pi kabalah which obviously small guys like Lipman wouldn’t understand. Kaparot with chickens is backed by all Mekubalim from all generations including the Ari Hakadosh zt”l as well as Gedolei Yisrael from all generations including this generation.

    Here comes this little guy who doesn’t understand much about Minhagei Yisrael and wants the secular State to stop this Minhag, as if charedim and other religious Jews would give a hoot to what he or the “State” decides in this matter. Tomorrow he’ll run to the “State” and have them stop Metzitzah Bepeh and even brit milah altogether as “cruelty” and then he’ll ask them to stop charedi levush. As a Lapidnik, he would go all the way.

    By the way, cutting funding to children is a lot more cruel and something Mr Lipman should really be concerned about instead of chickens which get killed and eaten every day.

  4. The Am Ha’aretz is proudly waving his ignorance again. Opening by saying it’s cruelty to animals and then saying that the Rashb”a and the Ramba”n said the same thing…

    Although a lot of Rishonim were against it, and the Shulchan Aruch ruled like them, the great Ariza”l found the minhag to be of great merit, and we do not second-guess the words of the Ariza”l.

  5. You can go ask any chicken!

    A chicken told me the other day they don’t get dizzy, they all think it’s quite some fun. Like a Chol Hamoed ride and they cannot wait!

  6. If bozo Lipman was alive during the bais mikdosh he would have said that sacrifices should be prohibitted. He does not see the larger plan that it is a zchus for an animal to be used for avodas Hashem. If the animal could talk he would tell Lipman what to do with his veiws.

  7. Why do some of the people here, including Rav Efrati, so quickly dismiss the words of the Rishonim while at the same time claiming that we can’t take the words of the ARI lightly. If the Rishonim, Rambam, Rashba AND the Beis Yosef/Mechaber were against this minhag, perhaps we need to re-examine what we are doing. Why does the ARI deserve more respect than the Rishonim who are a main source for Halacha?

  8. Kayin had a misplaced sensitivity to animals and look what he did to his brother. The Germans were known for being caring towards their dogs.

  9. We must always be wary of those who claim to be “for the Animals”.

    In much of Western Civilization, the “Animal Rights” activist are generally extreme radical Leftist/anarchists .

    Sadly, Most often this form of activism is packaged with other anti Human stands as well.

    It is a well know fact, that Hitler Ym”Sh, was an Animal Friend as well as a master of genocide.

  10. It is unbelievable that every time this apikores opens his mouth he seems to put his foot in it. For someone who went to one of the premier yeshivas in America he has fallen very far.

  11. There seems to be a legitimate difference of opinion on whether shlugging kapporus with live chickens is really required per halacha or has become part of the culture wars over emulating minhagim that appear out of step with contemporary practices. Even among rishonim there was debate but aside from Rabbi Luria, most were against the practice even hundreds of years ago.

  12. #5 Learn your halachos, the Rashba and Rambam were against using chickens for kaparoos.

    There are many Rabbanim who are advocating doing kaparoos with money, so stop the ax murder of Lipman on voicing the same complaint.

  13. I don’t think R’ Lippman is really contradicting R’ Efrati. No one is saying objectively that kapparos shouldn’t be done or that it is inherently tza’ar baalei chaim. THE WAY IT IS DONE NOWADAYS is what people are criticizing. The chickens are not treated nicely by the person running the kapparos or by the person using the chicken. Many chickens will not even be shechted properly.

    I think his point is, kapparos can be done with chickens if it is done properly and doesn’t cause any issurim. The way it is done nowadays is the result of many issurim and shouldn’t be done. Since there are Rishonim who preferred using money lechatchilah, there is no reason not to use money nowadays.

  14. Memo to Hear Ye:

    Rabbi Efrati specifically said that it’s a minhag so not to compare it so don’t come up with some brilliant “comeback”.

    And since when did MOCKING RABBONIM become secondary? Whether you believe that a certain Rabbi is qualified enough in your mind to voice his opinion, YOU are definitely NOT qualified so shut up & stop playing with fire. It’s never a good idea to play with fire. You & Lipman don’t seem to understand that.

  15. Actually, Rabbi Lipkin’s words are very measured, except when he calls for the State to be involved in banning this custom. It is never a good idea to ban ancient minhagim (this goes for metzitza bepeh). I can understand his request for acting humanely and even for him asking to use money ,rather than chickens but I think he erred when he askes for the State to get involved.
    This is why I deplore the language of some of the posters. If you feel that he is wrong, be measurd in your responses!

  16. Rav Hai Gaon banned chicken -kaparah practice and the Ramban likewise was against it, as were other rabbanim.
    Especially these days, when chickens ar crowded into boxes for days, many times in unsanitary conditions and mishandled by many people, I can agree with Rav Lipman.

  17. #5. It makes someone and Am Ha’aretz by agreeing with the Rashb”a, the Ramba”n and Shulcha Aruch? Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make them an Am Ha’aretz or a Rosho as some other people said.

  18. there are some incredibly foolish comments being made on here. rabbi lipman is using halachic sources to defend his opinion. if you have a problem with his opinion, then prove him wrong, dont simply rant against him. the simple fact is that halacha is determined based first and foremost on the shulchan aruch, not the arizal. and in shulchan aruch it says to refrain from minhag kapparos. of course the rema says not to refrain from it because its מנהג ותיקין, but that doesnt mean the rema would be ok with all of the halachic issues that stem from thousands upon thousands of chickens being used for this minhag, i.e. neveilos or tzar baalei chaim. rav lipmans point is a valid one, and just because it disagrees with some peoples narrow view of judaism and jewish practice doesnt make it wrong and certainly doesnt make it evil.
    p.s. can anyone explain to me why kapparos are done for a fetus? what did it do wrong?

  19. Arguing about Kapparos seems legit, but calling Rabbi Lipman names is simply unacceptable.
    If this is your way of doing Tshuva then you guys better go back to yeshiva

  20. Hey Louie14…..Reread my post… Nowhere am I mocking anybody. Maybe you’re having a bad day, but my thrust was that too much is being made about pro and anti-chicken , while forgetting the main message… which believe it or not IS the main message, whether one altogether doesn’t even do chicken kaporos.
    Second… you need to call him RAV Lipmna… you’re the one mocking.Look in a mirror, Louie