The Ministry of Agriculture began a campaign against the use of chickens for the kaparot ritual,saying it is doing so for the benefit of the public and to protect animal rights.
Kaparot is a traditional prayer said during the day before the Yom Kippur fast begins in which a person circles his head with a chicken or money, symbolizing that they are substitutes for him and are to be punished for his sins, the chicken to be slaughtered for a meal, usually donated to the poor, and the money given to charity. In recent years, there has been a brouhaha about the use of chickens in the prayer.
The ministry released a humorous video promoting the use of money instead of animals for the kaparot ritual.
Yehuda Puah, director of the human rights organization Betzalmo, told Arutz Sheva that this campaign was a result of the vegetarian movement which sees eating meat as immoral. He stated that he doesn’t take personal issue with replacing the traditional kaparot ritual with money but he does have a problem with the campaign.
“For years many Israeli and global organizations have promoted vegetarianism and the idea that eating meat is immoral. According to them, especially those who believe in the Big Bang theory of creation where everything was created by chance and there are no differences between living things, chickens are equal to humans and killing a chicken is murder,” Poeh explained, stating that he takes issue with this perversion of values and that chickens are most definitely not equal to humans. The movie shows the chickens talking about their rights.
“I am against mistreating living things, that is forbidden by the Torah, but one does not go to jail for eating meat. The Torah defined humans and animals. Animals have rights but humans are allowed to eat them or bring them as offerings when the Third Temple is built - and to perform the kaparot ritual,” Puah said.
The Ministry of Agriculture stated that “the kaparot ritual has been a long standing tradition in our history right before Yom Kippur. In past years we’ve been trying to encourage the public to continue the ritual but not with chickens - rather with charitable donations. That would work twofold because the animals wouldn’t suffer and the money would help those in need.” The chickens, however, are donated to poor families as well.