Friday, September 13, 2013

// // 7 comments

Report from Kaparos

by Reb Akiva

DSC02306Before Yom Kippur there is an ancient Jewish ritual to ritually slaughter a chicken (per kosher slaughter Jewish religious standards), which is then processed and given to the poor and needy to provide for food or used as food for one’s family.

In recent years there has been many speaking out against this ritual.  Among non-ultra-orthodox Jews it may be because the idea clashes with modern values of picking up our chicken in nice prepackaged styrofoam packages.  But some orthodox Jews have raised some religious objections to the ritual happening in large volume  with large Jewish communities and raising concerns of things that may be happening…

- Mistreatment of the chickens.  Since tzar baal hachaim, bringing harm to living animals (for no valid religious/life purpose), is religiously prohibited, if chickens are being left without food or water, or being excessively packed into containers – you can’t do a mitzvah (the ritual) by breaking a religious law, it would be prohibited.

- Throwing away the chickens.  Baal tashchis, waste, is also prohibited according to religious law.  Therefore if the chickens are not being properly processed (plucked, gutted, checked, soaked and salted, and given out), again the ritual would be via a religious violation and/or not fulfilling it’s mitzvah of charity, thereby prohibited.

- In some locations, particularly when this is done in the days before Yom Kippur, may not actually be slaughtering the chickens but returning them to circulation or even re-selling them to a regular factory.

Honestly, I was pretty convinced by the arguments.  The volume of the operation would seem to hint that it’s very possible such things could be a problem.

The alternative version of this ritual is to say the tefila (prayer), and give the value of a chicken to charity.  But my wife convinced me (dragged me) to go.  We did kapparos in the early morning before Yom Kippur, the preferred time for this ritual.  And we did it in an ultra-orthodox enclave in Israel (guaranteed to be high volume).

Here’s what I saw…

DSC023121. The chickens were being kept in a reasonably sized penned area.  No excessive crowding, all chickens appeared healthy and active.

By fortunate timing, they ran out of chickens after I arrived and I was drafted to go back to the farm (a 10 minute drive away) with some of the chassidic yiddish speaking youngers to transport more chickens.

2. The farm was a normal chicken farm with a normal industrial sized coop.  We entered the coop to gather chickens.  The coop was airy – open on the sides, and well supplied with feed and water.  It was also clean (for a chicken coop), no accumulation of feces nor any ammonia smell.  My sandals came out fine needing no special cleaning.

3. The young chassidic yiddish speaking boys were particularly careful to place no more than 8 chickens in each transport cage, counting how many were in each cage before placing another chicken inside.  No overcrowding during transport.

4. Near the coop on the farm was a chicken processing shed.  This had a machine for removing feathers and slicing open the bird.  At the end of the line were 3 shochtim (ritual slaughters) who were checking the organs (if certain organs are diseased or injured, the chicken is declared not-kosher).  The chickens were then being taken to an industrial scale soaking and salting operation.

There was a continuous line of chickens being brought here.  No wasted thrown away chickens, all being processed to kosher standards.

5. The ritual slaughterers were doing their thing, both with live chickens being brought to the chicken processing shed (one slaughterer slaughtering there) and back at the location we went to.  Each bird was expertly handled by the slaughterer, and I personally saw the slaughterers frequently checking their knives – in at least one case literally after every chicken.  No injured chickens, every one properly slaughtered to kosher standards.

Net net, I saw all the raised concerns being dealt with.  The chickens were being reasonably treated.  The farm environment was as clean and hygienic as expected at a farm.  An industrial scale process for processing the slaughtered chickens was in place and doing it’s thing.  The chickens were being properly slaughtered per Jewish religious requirements, and were being sent for processing afterwards. 

DSC02321Now dealing with live chickens and watching (kosher) poultry slaughter is something most of us are unfamiliar with.  We’re used to dealing with our chickens in the refrigerated section, neatly wrapped in plastic in a nice styrofoam package.  We’re not used to meeting our food eye to eye and seeing an animal die in front of us.  And there’s blood.  Oh, and blood.  And yes, there’s blood.  And a dead animal body.

If you don’t live on a farm, are a butcher or a ritual slaughterer, it’s jarring.  (There’s also a particular mitzvah of kisoy dom, covering up the blood, that most of us never have an opportunity to fulfill – well here’s the opportunity, yay!)

But that’s the point.  To awaken us to teshuva (repentence), to understand life and death happens in a moment, and to request that in the merit of the donation of this chicken to charity, to the needy, to food, and understanding for a brief moment that this also is a life, that we should merit life, good life, long life.

There may be, G-d forbid, some unscrupulous people doing this process inappropriately.  But I found out when I asked and saw the details, it was being done in a kosher and appropriate way.

It’s still (kosher) slaughter.  There’s blood and dead animal bodies.  In today’s hygienic world, that may be too much for many.  If so, the ritual can be said as just a prayer and charity donation.  But in my investigation the process is being done in a kosher and proper way.

Gmar Chasima Tova, may you be written and sealed for a good and sweet year.

7 comments:

Neshama said...

Gmar Chatima Tova to you Reb Akiva, and your entire family; including all of Am Yisrael.

How far back do you think the "chicken" kaporos has been done. I can imagine that before 'money' became so prevalent, it might have been chickens in the shtetl, but before that, pre European shtetlach?

What did Israel use during first and second Temple times? Could they have used 'dates' or 'figs' or 'grapes' or 'rimonim' or even 'bee dvash'? What did they barter with then? Gold coins? This would be an interesting research process.

Thank you for the show and tell.

efraim said...

yasher koach for this very important post.

Anonymous said...

BS”D
Discussion with Moishe’la (with his family)
A Handicapped child
Tishrei 9 ’5774 (Sept 13 ’13)

“Kapparos of תשע”ד”

Tatti: Moishe’la you were so happy when you left to go to Kapparos this morning, and you were so happy when you came back, but then you laid down and started to cry. Why?

Moishela: I saw the live chicken and saw the chicken after it was Shechted. I saw it laying in a pool of blood and I felt that this is a warning of all the violence that will be in the world this year. תשע”ד will bring the worst of the Rishus (evil) to the surface. I know that it is all for the good but still it is very frightening.

It is just like the chicken after the Shechita. You see its lifeless body and its blood staining the ground. One’s heart goes out to the poor dead animal and you feel depressed. But that chicken was killed according to the laws of kashrus that were brought down and given to Am Yisrael at Har Sinai in our Holy Torah. It then becomes a nourishing meal for a Tzaddik who makes a Brocha on it to thank Hashem before and after he eats the chicken.

Really that chicken that looked so gruesome just a short time before, that was killed in a seemingly harsh way, comes back to life with a Brocha and having the Zechus of being the food that sustains a Tzaddik or even a simple Jew. Such a chicken never really dies; it just takes on a new form. It changes its worldly disguise to a spiritual form.

Now that I said all that, I can also say that when I was looking at the dead chicken I felt that תשע”ד will be a very difficult year.

I plead with Am Yisroel please do Teshuva NOW! Throw away all your stupid toys, throw away your silly pass times. Live only to do your Creator’s will. Love your fellow Jew, and don’t wish him harm.

All Yidden Frum, or not, that cause harm to their fellow Jews, that have jealousy and hatred in their hearts for their own kind, those Jews who participate in actually being Malshinim (informers to the authorities) or just physically getting pleasure from seeing fellow Jews hurt or dishonored, those Jews whoever they are, whether they are important people of the community or lesser people, they are not Jews. They are Erev Rav.

So I beg all true Jews, Jews that can have love in their hearts for their fellow Jews, do Teshuva NOW! Discard all excess Gashmius, build a true Jewish home where the husband is an Oved Hashem and an Ohev Yisroel and a Baal Chessed and one that learns Torah, where the wife is a true Tzniusdik Eshes Chayil and the children are Temimusdik, sweet, Erlich, well behaved, and truly believing in Hashem. That is a true Jewish home, a true Bais Hamikdosh Mi’at.

Come back Am Yisroel

When I looked at the dead-lifeless chicken I became very sad. But then I realized that the chicken gave its physical life in order to sustain the Tzaddik. The chicken still exsits but in a much higher form .And we human beings too will live on Be’ezeras Hashem.

We won’t need to be Shechted if we are ready to sacrifice our whole selves to the will of HaKodosh Boruch Hu. This living Al Kidush Hashem, this changing of our physical form to a more spiritual one, will prove that our Neshomos are the Neshomos of the Jews that stood at Har Sinai. And those so-called Jews that do not do Teshuva in such a way, will be Shechted like the chickens, but not in Kedushah, and they will just disappear. Their carcasses will be thrown to the dogs and will be food for the Sitra Achra.

Excuse my graphic descriptions, but too few people are waking up. Maybe this will help some people do something right now to come back to the truth so their suffering will be much less in this coming year.

תשע”ד will, Bezeras Hashem, bring the whole world through a most difficult time but will clearly reveal the road that will bring Be’ezras Hashem all Am YIsrael to the Geula Shelaimah.

joshwaxman said...

here, though, is an example of it going wrong, in Brooklyn, thousands of chickens suffocating to death:

http://www.vosizneias.com/141356/2013/09/13/brooklyn-ny-kaparot-services-suspended-in-borough-park-after-thousands-of-chickens-suffocate-in-heat/

They also shouldn't be shechting it in front of children. Poor Moishela, having to witness that. (He was much more likely affected by the physical sight than by the bogus mystical readings they are falsely attributing to him.)

kol tuv,
josh

Josh said...

I admit that I have also heard so much misleading 'facts' and speculation about kapparot and I too was in Bnei Brak erev chag seeing this for the first time. My first impression was 'this is the big deal that all the bleeding hearts were crying about?' I've lived on kibbutz and been with live poultry. The chickens were being kept in plastic cages and not packed in. The people involved were being careful to hold the chickens and there was no tzar baalei hayim when I was there. Next year, IY"H, I might take my kids to do this instead of money or flowers.

Anonymous said...

to moishela


כל כך מדוייק מה שמויש'לה כותב לנו.

למי שיש לב זה גם מפחיד ומעורר אותנו לתשובה אנחנו חייבים את זה..

מוישל'ה אתה צודק !!! גם פה בארץ אנחנו שבויים,

אני שומעת הרבה , יהודים יקרים ,מכל המגזרים,

ואפילו חוזרים בתשובה זה מקרוב באו, ברגע שהתחתנו הביאו צאצאים,

מה שנקרא בנו את ביתם, הגשמי והרוחני מתעסקים בכל הדברים שהסיטרא אחרא מציע,

ולצערינו גם שכחו את הקדוש ברוך הוא!!!!

גם שכחו את התורה והמצות כמו לדבר אמת,

לקיים שבת, כשרות, וטהרת המשפחה!

מדי פעם נזכרים ואומרים בעזרת השם. במיוחד לחומר.

אבל ידוע מה שחכמינו אמרו לנו לדור האחרון הזה, שבסוף הסיטרא אחרא יוציא את

את כל הכלים, ומי שיהיה בירושלים הכוונה גם בנשמה.

קדוש יאמר לו . חזק וברוך.

תמשיך להפיץ את זה, זה כל כך אמת וחזק. תודה מלכה (רחובות)

Anonymous said...

BS”D
Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
3 Av 5774 (July 29, ’14)

“We Must Prepare Ourselves To Be Unblemished Sacrifices”

Since the last time that I wrote, much has happened. The world has almost turned up-side-down. Besides the war that we are having here in Eretz Yisroel, many other wars have begun and the world has become a much more dangerous and frightening place. One of the reasons that it is so frightening, besides the fact that these wars are cruel, shooting, killing wars, with blood flowing freely, besides that fact, what frightens us the most is that much of what is happening today simply doesn’t work according to a logical mind, a normal logical mind. Pieces are missing from the puzzle that should be evident. We don’t know who the good guy is. We don’t know who the bad guy is. We don’t know from one minute to the other who is on whose side. Suddenly there are certain things that are uncovered that we had no inkling had ever been in existence, and they tell us in the highest places with the most knowledgeable of people so-to-speak that it has been there for the last ten, twenty, fifty years festering and growing and becoming monstrosities, and we scratch our heads and say how in the world did that happen. How did it become so bad? How come it came upon us in such a sudden way? How come no one knew, and if they knew, how come no one did anything?

We trust the governments to make sure that all our medications are not dangerous to us. We trust the courts that they will give everybody a fair shake so-to-speak. We trust the doctors that they will give us the right diagnosis. We trust the economists that tell us that things are looking up financially, or they give us advice how to invest. We trust all the different aspects of the Egel Hazahav, but we don’t trust the Truth. The Truth is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and we trust man more than the Truth with a capital T. I know that we are coming very close to Moshiach. I know that we’re soon going to throw off the bonds of this terrible Golus. I know that only those who recognize Truth, with a capital T will ever be able to live in a world of the Truth with a capital T, and therefore I want to explain to you that things look jumbled and not logical because it’s not the Truth. It’s not the way the world was created.

What is happening today, it’s going against the Truth. Its degenerate, and its pulling us into a degenerate mode, and its taking over the whole world, and we have to resist. The only way to stop it is to recognize that something is very wrong here and we’re hanging on to the wrong lifesaver for dear life. We think we have a rubber tube to float on the water and be saved, but we don’t. It’s full of lead and it’s going to bring us down to the bottom of the sea, Chas Vesholom. What does Hashem want from us? How can we survive this terrible calamity, this evilness that has oozed out from every corner of the world that nobody realized existed in such a tremendous force? How can we survive all this? Who are we, only puny people without any strength. How can

BS”D
Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
3 Av 5774 (July 29, ’14)

“We Must Prepare Ourselves To Be Unblemished Sacrifices”

Since the last time that I wrote, much has happened.

for the rest of the discussion: http://palmtreeofdeborah.blogspot.co.il/

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