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Yosef Chaim’s Kapparot

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

“Catch the fish!” cried Reb Moshe. “They’re sliding back into the water!” No one seemed very concerned about me, sitting drenched and fishy on the bottom of the boat, nor about the fact that I had been nearly eaten alive by a sea monster. They were just bothered about saving their precious fish for kapparot.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This year’s kapparot ceremony looked like it was going to be interesting. For years we’ve been doing kapparot with chickens, in a huge ceremony before sunrise, organized by the kollel where my abba learns in the afternoons. But this year the rav ruled differently, as I discovered when my abba came home one night. “This year we’re going to do kapparot with fish instead,” Abba announced. “The rav decided that because there are so many of us, there is too much risk of tzaar baalei chayim with chickens, and so it’s safer to use fish.” I knew what Abba meant. Every year the kollel would order a huge number of chickens for everyone and they would be brought up to Tzfat in a truck. Then, because it usually took a while for everyone to get organized, the poor chickens would be kept waiting inside the stuffy, crowded truck. In fact, you might remember that last year I felt so sorry for them that I opened the truck door a bit to give them some air. Unfortunately they got a bit more air than I had planned, as they managed to push the door open, fly over my head, and escape. And that meant hundreds of squawking chickens running around the streets of Tzfat’s Old City in the middle of the night, which was definitely an experience not to be repeated. In fact, that might well have been what made the rav change his ruling this year.…

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