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The Kapparots

It is customary to perform the rite of Kapparot (“symbolic atonement”) in preparation for Yom Kippur.

In the event that we were destined to be the objects of cruel decrees, may these be transferred to this chicken through the merit of the mitzvah of charity...

To the extent that you do not have the possibility of doing this with a rooster or a hen, you can do it with money (the custom is to give the value of 'Hai = life = 18 per member of the family) while reading this text.

You also have the possibility of donating Kapparot for the benefit of the ReouBanim association under the direction of Rav Yehuda Israelievitch directly HERE online.

ReouBanim is:

1. Prayer of the Kapparot

The following text will be said three times before making the donation:


Benei adam, yoshvé 'hochekh vétsalmavet, assirei 'oni ouvarzel, yotsiem me'hochekh vetsalmavet, oumosrotéheme yenatek. Evilim midérekh, pich'am oumé'avonotéheme yit'anou, kol okhel tétaev nafcham, vayaguiyou ad chaarei mavet. Vayiz'akou el ado-naï batsar lahem, mimetsoukoteihéme yochi'éme. Yishla'h devaro véyirpaème, vimalet mich'hitotam.yodou lado-naï 'hasdo venifleotav livnei adam. Im yech alav malakh mélits e’had mini alef lehagid leadam yochro. Vaye’hounénou vayomer: pedaehu méredet cha’hat matsati khofer.

We spin the money around our heads three times

Zeh 'halifati, zeh temourati, zeh kaparati, zeh hakessef yelekh litsedaka, vaani elekh le'haïm tovim aroukhim oulechalom.è

2. Do the Kapparot

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Learn more about the Kapparot

The Kapparot rite: Tradition and Reflection before Yom Kippur

The rite of Kapparot, an ancient Jewish tradition, is practiced by many worshipers in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is a symbolic ritual that aims to raise awareness and encourage charity.

The word “Kapparot” translates to “atonement”. The rite consists of spinning a chicken three times above its head while reciting a specific text. This action is followed by the slaughter of the poultry according to the strict rules of kashrut, guaranteeing humane killing.

It is essential to understand that this chicken is not a sacrificial offering and that the rite itself does not forgive sins. Instead, it serves as a poignant reminder. In a world where most of us are removed from the realities of slaughter, holding a chicken and seeing it slaughtered reinforces the realization that, were it not for G-d's mercy, our fate could be similar.

After the rite, the chicken is usually donated to a charitable institution, such as a yeshiva or orphanage. It can also be sold, and the funds raised then go to charity. By this gesture, the faithful hope that if cruel decrees were intended for them, they would be transferred to the chicken thanks to the charitable act.

The practice of Kapparot reminds us of our unique place in G-d's creation. Animals give their lives for our sustenance, inspiring us to live with integrity, selflessness and wisdom as only human beings can.

The progress of the Kapparot ritual

The Kapparot ritual is a deeply rooted Jewish tradition, practiced by many worshipers in preparation for Yom Kippur. Here are the steps to follow to carry out this rite:

  1. Handling the chicken: Start by taking the chicken in your hands. If you are unsure of how to hold it correctly, it is recommended that you have an experienced person do it for you. Improper handling can cause harm to the animal and potentially render it non-kosher.

  2. Recitation and rotation: Recite the first paragraph (“Benei Adam…”). Then, while beginning the second paragraph, rotate the chicken three times above your head. With each rotation, say the following phrases: “Zeh 'halifati” (“This is my replacement”), “Zeh temourati” (“This is my substitute”) and “Zeh kaparati” (“This is my atonement”). Repeat this sequence two more times, for a total of nine rotations.

  3. Ritual slaughter: Once the recitation and rotation are complete, take the chicken to the ritual slaughterer, the cho'het, to carry out the slaughter.

  4. Cover the blood: After slaughter, you have the opportunity to perform a specific mitzvah: covering the bird's blood. Use a handful of prepared soil and recite the appropriate blessing before covering the blood.

  5. Thank the feller: It is common to tip the cho'het as a thank you for their service.

  6. Inclusion of children: Traditionally, even the youngest are included in the ritual. A parent can spin the chicken over the child's head while reciting the appropriate phrases.

  7. Using alternatives: If you opt for fish or silver instead of chickens, follow the same steps except slaughtering. Be sure to adjust the text of the recitation accordingly.

The specificities of Kapparot: Chickens, Poultry and Alternatives

Kapparot, a traditional Jewish ritual, has specific guidelines regarding the choice of poultry. Here's how it works:

  1. Selection according to genre: A man or boy usually uses a rooster, while a woman or girl opts for a hen. The ideal is for each individual to have their own poultry for the ritual.

  2. Sharing between family members: If buying a chicken for each member of the family is financially restrictive, it is possible to use a single rooster for all the men and boys, and a single hen for all the women and girls in the family. However, it is crucial that all members of the family perform the ritual simultaneously, as a chicken already used for Kapparot cannot be reused.

  3. Case of pregnant women: A pregnant woman should use three poultry: two hens and a rooster. One hen is for her, while the rooster and the other hen are for the unborn baby, whose sex is unknown. If this poses a financial problem, she can make do with a hen and a rooster, with the eventual daughter sharing the hen with her mother.

  4. Chicken Alternatives: If live chickens are not available, other kosher poultry may be used, with the exception of doves and pigeons which were traditionally offered as sacrifices. Some devotees opt for live kosher fish. Another common alternative is to use cash representing the value of a chicken, which is then donated to charity.

The ideal time to practice Kapparot

Kapparot, a deeply rooted Jewish tradition, are typically held in specifically designated locations, adhering to established health standards. These locations offer live chickens for purchase, and ritual slaughterers are on hand to ensure the process takes place in accordance with Jewish laws. After the ritual, the chickens are usually donated to charity.

If you are interested in participating in this rite, it is advisable to consult your local rabbi to find out where Kapparot are held near you.

Although Kapparot can be performed during the Ten Days of Penance, which extend from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, it is traditionally recommended to perform them on the day before Yom Kippur, just before dawn. It is at this time that a “thread of divine goodness” is believed to envelop the world, making this time particularly auspicious for ritual.

The historical roots of the Kapparot ritual

The Kapparot ritual, although widely practiced today, has origins dating back to Talmudic times. The first known mention of the use of a chicken for this rite is found in a responsum by Rabbi Shniena Gaon. Living at the beginning of the Geonic period, which followed the Talmudic era, around 660 CE, Rabbi Shniena speaks of this custom as already well established. His treatment of the issue suggests that his audience was already familiar with the practice, attesting to its antiquity.

Additionally, some scholars refer to passages in the Talmud that appear to allude to this tradition. Although the custom of Kapparot has evolved over time, these historical references provide us with valuable insight into its origins and importance within the Jewish community.

The choice of chicken for the Kapparot: Meanings and Traditions

The Kapparot ritual is intrinsically linked to the use of a chicken, but why this particular bird? Several explanations have been put forward over the centuries to justify this choice:

  1. Linguistic link: In Aramaic, the word for a rooster is “géver”. Interestingly, in Hebrew, “gever” means man. Thus, the choice of the rooster (guéver) symbolizes an expiation for the man (guéver).

  2. Accessibility and cost: Chicken is a common poultry item, easily accessible and generally affordable for most people.

  3. Distinction of the Temple sacrifices: Chicken was not a species offered as sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. This eliminates any potential confusion, preventing anyone from thinking that the Kapparot ritual is a sacrificial act.

In addition, tradition favors white chickens for this rite. This preference is inspired by the verse of Isaiah (1:18): “If your sins turn out to be red like scarlet, they will become white like snow. » Therefore, the black chicken is generally avoided because it symbolizes divine severity and rigor. Likewise, it is essential to ensure that the chicken chosen for the ritual has no visible defects or injuries, thus reflecting the integrity and purity sought in the atonement process.