MK Rabbi Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) issued a call Sunday against the use of chickens for the kaparot ritual, which takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur. The ritual involves swinging a live chicken over one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption at the pre-fast meal.
MK Lipman noted that coins can also be used for the ritual, as can flowers.
"It is time to issue a call from here, the Land of Israel, to stop with this deplorable custom," he said. "Similar calls have been made in the past by people, including the great Torah sages. The Rashba demanded that this 'pagan' custom, as he called it, be forbidden completely in his city. The Ramban as well as Rabbi Kaduri also ruled against this pagan custom. Therefore, it should not surprise us that the Shulhan Arukh, the Jewish lawbook, called the custom 'silly'."
MK Lipman said that he wholeheartedly supports carrying out the kaparot ritual, but with coins, which are then given to the needy. This, he said, is a widely observed and documented tradition.
"It is time to do what's right," the MK wrote on his Facebook page. "Use coins for tzedaka (charity – ed.); use flowers. Stop being part of this cruelty."
"Kind David taught us about G-d's compassion," he said. "Let us demonstrate that we, too, live in accordance with the laws of compassion."