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Erev Yom Kippur Is Holy Too

Yisrael Rutman

Kapparos is one of the most interesting, and argued about, minhagim of Yom Kippur. But since Yom Kippur isn’t a time for argument, we thought it would be a good idea to explain things ahead of time....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

At first, it’s hard to understand what swinging a chicken over your head has to do with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, when we fast and pray for atonement for our sins. We can’t gain forgiveness for our sins without teshuvah, repentance, including those sins which carry the death penalty. By being allowed to substitute the death of a chicken for our own death (realizing that what happens to it should have happened to us), one will (hopefully) appreciate Hashem’s mercy and be inspired to repent. Why doesn’t everyone do kapparos? There are several reasons. Of course, many of our fellow Jews simply never heard about it; or if they have, don’t understand it. However, the poskim have argued over whether kapparos are a good idea halachically. Some were against it because it looked too much like certain non-Jewish customs, or that people would mistakenly think that the chicken’s death frees them from doing teshuvah. But since many great rabbis upheld the minhag, it remains common in Jewish communities today. 

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