The Kaparot Ceremony

It is customary to perform the kaparot (symbolic "atonement") rite in preparation for Yom

The rite consists of taking a chicken and waving it over one's head three times while reciting
the appropriate text. The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic procedure and
its monetary worth given to the poor, or, as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated
to a charitable cause.

We ask of G‑d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year,
may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this mitzvah of charity.

In most Jewish communities, kaparot is an organized event at a designated location. Live
chickens are made available for purchase, ritual slaughterers are present, and the
slaughtered birds are donated to a charitable organization. Speak to your rabbi to find out
whether and where kaparot is being organized in your area.

The Details
The Timing

Kaparot can be done any time during the Ten Days of Repentance (i.e. between Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur), but the ideal time is on the day preceding Yom Kippur during the
early pre-dawn hours, for a "thread of Divine kindness" prevails during those hours.

The Chicken

Several reasons have been suggested for the choice of a chicken to perform the kaparot rite:
1) In Aramaic, a rooster is known as a gever. In Hebrew, a gever is a man. Thus we take a
gever to atone for a gever. 2) A chicken is a commonly found fowl and relatively inexpensive.
3) It is not a species that was eligible for offering as a sacrifice in the Holy Temple. This
precludes the possibility that someone should erroneously conclude that the kaparot is a

It is customary to use a white chicken, to recall the verse (Isaiah 1:18), "If your sins prove to be
like crimson, they will become white as snow." In any event, one should not use a black
chicken, as black is the color that represents divine severity and discipline. Nor should one
use an obviously blemished chicken.

A male takes a rooster; a female uses a hen. Ideally every individual should use their own
chicken. If, however, this is cost prohibitive, one fowl can be used for several individuals. So
an entire family can do kaparot with two chickens—one rooster for all the males and one hen
for all the females.

In the event that more than one person share a kaparot chicken, they should do the kaparot
together, not one after the other. For one cannot do kaparot with a "used" chicken.

A pregnant woman should perform kaparot with three chickens—two hens and a rooster. One
hen for herself, and the other hen and rooster for the unborn child (of undetermined gender).
Or, if this is too expensive, one hen and one rooster will suffice (and if the fetus is female, she
shares the hen with her mother).

If a chicken is unavailable, one may substitute another kosher fowl (besides for doves and
pigeons, as they were offered as sacrifices in the Holy Temple). Some use a kosher live fish;
others perform the entire rite with money, and then giving the money – at least the value of a
chicken – to charity.

The Ceremony

Take the chicken in your hands and say the first paragraph ("Children of man who sit in
When reciting the beginning of the second paragraph, wave the chicken over your head in
circular motions three times—once when saying, "This is my exchange," again when saying
"This is my substitute," and again when saying, "This is my expiation."
Repeat the entire process another two times. (Altogether waving the chicken over your head
nine times.)
Rest both your hands on the bird—as was customarily done when bringing a sacrifice in the
Holy Temple.
Take the chicken to the shochet (ritual slaughterer), who slaughters the bird.
Here's your chance to fulfill a relatively rare biblical mitzvah—that of covering the blood of a
slaughtered bird. Take a handful of dirt (usually made available in the area) and recite the
following blessing before covering the blood:
Baruch attah Adonai Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidishanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al kisui
hadam be'afar.
(Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His
commandments and commanded us concerning covering the blood with earth.).
It is customary in many communities to tip the shochet for his service.
If you're reluctant to hold a live chicken in your hands, someone else can hold the chicken and
wave it over your head.

Even the smallest of children are traditionally brought to kaparot, and one of their parents
waves the chicken over the child's head, while saying, "This is your exchange, this is your
substitute, this is your expiation..."

It is of utmost importance to treat the chickens humanely, and not to, G‑d forbid, cause them
any pain or discomfort. Jewish law very clearly forbids causing any unnecessary pain to any of
G‑d's creations. The repugnance of such an unkind act would certainly be amplified on this
day, the eve of the day when we beseech G‑d for – perhaps undeserved – kindness and
mercy. In fact, the Code of Jewish Law suggest that we take the innards and liver of the
kaparot chickens and place them in an area where birds can feed off them. "It is proper to
show mercy to the creatures on this day, so that in Heaven they should have mercy upon us

The same procedure outlined above is followed – sans the ritual slaughterer – if using fish or
money for kaparot.
To accomplish the mitzva of Kapparot please made a donation .
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               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,
do the rotations 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, rotate the chicken, fish or money over your

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.

Phonetic text

Benei adam, yochvé 'hochekh vétsalmavèt, assirei ‘oni ouvarzel,
yotsiem me'hochekh vetsalmavet, oumosrotéhème yenatek.
Evilim midérekh, pich’am oumé’avonotéheme yit’anou, kol okhel
tétaev nafcham, vayaguiyou ad chaarei mavet. Vayiz’akou el ado-
naï batsar lahem, mimétsoukoteihéme yochi’éme. Yichla'h devaro
véyirpaème, vimalet mich'hitotam.yodou lado-naï ‘hasdo
vénifleotav livnei adam. Im yech alav malakh mélits e'had mini
alef léhaguid léadam yochro. Vaye’hounénou vayomer :
pédaéhou méredét cha’hat matsati khofer.

we turning the chiken over our head,

mens say :

Zeh 'halifati, zeh temourati, zeh kaparati, zeh hatarnegol yelekh lémita,
vaani elekh le'haïm tovim aroukhim oulechalom.

women say :

Zot 'halifati, zot temourati, zot kaparati, zot hatarnegolète telekh lémita,
vaani elekh le'haïm tovim aroukhim oulechalom.

if we use money we say :

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