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Text of Kapparot

Text of Kapparot


At dawn or early in the morning before Yom Kippur, take a live chicken, fish or money which will then be given to charity and recite the following three times. Recite the first paragraph, pass it over your head three times and then recite the paragraph again, etc.

Children of man who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, bound in misery and chains of iron --- He will bring them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and will sunder their bonds. Foolish sinners, afflicted because of their sinful ways and their wrongdoings; their soul loathes all food and they reach the gates of death --- they cry out to the Lord in their distress; He saves them from their afflictions. He sends forth His word and heals them; He delivers them from their graves. Let them thank the Lord for His kindness, and [proclaim] His wonders to the children of man. If there be for a man [even] one interceding angel out of a thousand [accusers], to speak of his uprightness in his behalf, then He will be gracious to him and say: Redeem him from going down to the grave; I have found expiation [for him].

When reciting the first twelve words below, pass the chicken, fish or money over your head three times.

This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my expiation. This chicken shall go to death and I shall proceed to a good, long life and peace.

Click here for Hebrew and English text in printable PDF format (courtesy of Kehot Publication Society).

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Discussion (25)
October 12, 2016
The chicken "shall" go to its death, whereas we pray for G-d to forego punishing us. The "shall" is important as it demonstrates that by human nature, we make up our minds and have a very difficult time changing it. But G-d is not limited in this or any other sense, so we are beseeching Him in His attribute of Compassion and Mercy, because He is able to relent.
המקום נשרף יושף רם
October 6, 2016
This custom adds an aspect of reality that our sins do not disappear by themselves. You cannot simply transfer your sins to a Chicken. You must believe in your heart that you will change your ways and not repeat these actions again.
September 12, 2013
Re: Another Rabbi quote
Yes, the custom is quite controversial. But Rabbi Karo is certainly not the last word in halacha, especially for Ashkenazim.

Rabbi Moshe Isserles composed a gloss on the Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi Karo, and Ashkenazim generally follow his decision. In this case, he writes, "There were those of the ge'onim who wrote in support of this custom, as well as many later authorities. This is the custom in these lands, and it should not be changed, because it is a strong custom."

Many sefardic Jews also keep this custom, especially since the Ari, Rabbi Yitzchaak Luria, provided many teachings concerning it.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
September 12, 2013
Re: Haiti and Voodoo
With all due respect, it is difficult to see the connection. The Haitian woman is doing this as some sort of magic. Kapparot are being done as a symbol of atonement.

I do agree that people should take care when handling the chickens. Those that are not adept at handling them should have someone else do so for them.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
September 12, 2013
Re: Misquote (Steve Abraham)
We are quoting from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch—the standard abridged code of Jewish Law 131:1. Not all the customs are quoted in the machzor itself.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
September 12, 2013
transferring sins
Thank you,
I have a better understanding of the symbolism.
To say it in one's mind is easy, but to mean it we must transform it into a mitzvah.
September 12, 2013
Re Transferring sins
Yes! You can use a fish instead of a chicken or use charity, wrap up a bill in a napkin, and swing it around your head. Staff
September 12, 2013
transferring sins to a chicken

Is there a substitute we could use instead of the chicken if one does not have access to one , nor the skills / knowledge e.g. could we give money to charity ?
September 12, 2013
another Rabbi quote.... how do you answer this?
quote... "Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Code of Jewish Law, called the practice “heathen, foolish and superstitious."
When I went to Yeshiva, we were taught to look to the Code of Jewish Law for answers to questions. How do you avoid this quote, please?
And I will continue to find more sources . what are your sources for your information ? Where do you find any justification for this cruel ritual ?
steve abraham
new york
September 12, 2013
Haiti and voodo
I was sent a photo of a voodoo woman in Haiti, swinging a chicken around over her head and saying a prayer. Wow, it looked so barbaric. When a voodoo person does it, we decry the cruelty and also the logic of using a live animal, saying, "Would a loving and caring G-d want us to swing a live chicken around and forgive us because of this act?" Yet, when we, as orthodox jews do this, we are spiritual? What is the difference, please.
new york
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