A Rabbi’s kaporos Plea: Wave Money, Not Chickens
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, an Orthodox Rabbi in Los Angeles, pleads with the Jewish community, “Today’s travesty of kaporos transgresses major torah prohibitions and needs to be changed.” In a case where the ritual can be done properly, then Halacha says it is permissible. All too often the ritual is being performed improperly, and the minhag distorted.
When you practice kaparos today you may be committing the following sins, and we know that a we always abstain from an activity in a case where Torah laws may be broken.
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 County and likely in all other American cities.
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.
Music “Gvria” by Adam Weinberg.
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