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What Is Kapparot?

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

The Daily Halacha Moment - Kapparot 🐔 💵

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


What is Kapparot?


On Erev Yom Kippur, the general custom is to perform kapparot. Kapparot is performed by waving a chicken or money over one’s head and declaring that the chicken or money being waved should receive the punishment for one’s sins, instead of oneself. Afterward, the chicken or money is given to the poor. This custom dates back to the times of the Geonim. [1]

If one is using a chicken, one should make sure that the chicken is slaughtered properly, without being rushed. Preferably, one should not perform kapparot on erev Yom Kippur if one will not have the proper patience and state of mind to allow the chicken to be slaughtered according to all Halachic conditions. On erev Yom Kippur there is an excessive amount of chickens to be slaughtered, and the shochtim may not be as careful from fatigue. [2]

Some people have the custom to take a hen for every female of the household and a rooster for every male.[3] The custom is also only to take white chickens. [4] One who cannot afford a separate chicken for every person may use one rooster for all the males, and one hen for all the females. [5] Furthermore, one may not use maaser money to perform kapparot. [6]

Adapted From R' Yonatan Nacsons "Laws Of The Holidays"


[1]. Machzor Vitri, siman 339, p. 373; Pardes HaGadol §186; the Rosh on Yoma, perek Yom HaKippurim §23; Shibbulei HaLeket §283; Raavya 2:547; Ohr Zarua 2:257; the Mordechi on the beginning of Yoma; Tashbatz HaKatan, written by a talmid of the Maharam, §125; and the Tur. See also Yabia Omer 2:71; Yechaveh Daat 2:71, Halichot Olam vol. 2, p.255 and Chazon Ovadia, Yamim Nora’im p. 222; Yalkut Yosef, Yamim Nora’im, pages 586–587; Ein Yitzchak vol. 3, p. 395; and Torat HaMoadim, Yamim Nora’im, p. 161.

[2]. See Chazon Ovadia, Yamim Nora’im, p. 223; Yalkut Yosef, Yamim Nora’im, p. 590, halachah 10; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 4, 8:2; and the sources cited in the above footnote. The Mishnah Berurah adds that if one cannot find a proper shochet to slaughter the chicken or cannot do so during the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, it is better to use money instead. See also Emek Yehoshua, Maman 2:39 and Mayim Chaim 1:254.

[3]. Rama 605:1

[4]. Rama 605:1. The Mishnah Berurah 605:4 adds, however, that one should not go out of his way to find white chickens since that would be reminiscent of an Amorite practice.

[5]. Yalkut Yosef, Yamim Nora’im, pages 587–588; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 4, 8:1. See also Mishneh Halachot

11:494 regarding what to do if one does not have a female chicken.

[6]. Mishnah Berurah 605:6.

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