The ceremony of Kaparos that is performed with the chicken

The ceremony of Kaparos that is performed with the chicken:[1]  

One holds the chicken and says the paragraph beginning Bnei Adam printed in the Siddur.[2] When one reaches the paragraph of “Zeh Chalifasi, Zeh Temurasi, Zeh Kaparasi[3] etc” one encircles[4] the chicken around [and above] his head three[5] times, while reciting the statement. The above paragraph beginning from Bnei Adam is then repeated another two times[6], thus encircling the head a total of nine times.[7]



In which hand is the chicken to be held?

Some[8] write, the chicken is to be held in one’s right hand. Admur does not make any mention of this detail.


Does it make a difference as to which direction one swerves the chicken around his head?

This matter is not discussed in Poskim hence assuming that one may do so in whichever direction he chooses.


Should the Nusach of Kaparos be said differently by women, or children?

Some[9] write Admur intentionally omitted the change of Nuschaos and therefore one should always say “Chalifasi”, whether a man or woman.


Must each person hold the chicken and wave it over his/her own head or may he/she have someone else hold it and wave it over his/her head?

It is initially preferable for the chicken to be held and waved by the person on whose behalf the Kaparah is being performed.[10] Nonetheless, in a time of need, such as children, or the queasy minded who cannot hold a chicken, another person may hold it.[11] [A husband may perform the circling over his wife who is a Niddah so long as they are careful to avoid any contact.[12]]

Who is to say Zeh Chalifasi when doing on behalf of another? The person who the Kaparah is being done for is to say “Zeh Chalifasi” while the circles are being made over their head.[13] Alternatively, the person who is holding and circling the chicken is to say “Zeh Chalifascha”.[14] This Nussach is to be said when doing Kaparos on behalf of children who are too young to recite the Nussach. 

How is Kaparaos to be performed to small children who cannot do so themselves?[15]

The father is to do so for them, as explained above.

Must one first perform Kaparos on himself prior to performing it on others [i.e. encircling the chicken over the heads of others]?[16]

It is proper for one to first perform Kaparos on himself prior to doing so on behalf of others. If there is a reason that he is not able to do so, then one may initially do the Kaparos for others before doing so on himself.



[1] Admur 605:1, Siddur Admur, Sefer Haminhagim p. 123 [English Edition], based on Hayom Yom 9th Tishreiy [The Shulchan Aruch and Siddur contain slight differences]; See Shaar Hakolel 42:2; Glosses of Rav Raskin on Siddur

[2] The custom is to recite Bnei Adam prior to the circling, and only then begin the circling with the words Zeh Chalifasi. [See Sefer Haminhagim ibid]

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch/Siddur: In the Siddur Admur makes no mention of the circling at all, and in the Shulchan Aruch 605:1 he writes the circling is to be done before the recital of Bnei Adam.

[3] This stands for the Roshei Teveis of Chatach which means to cut, and stands for the name [of an angel-M”A] that “cuts:decides” life for every creation. [Admur 605:1; Taz 605:2; M”A 605:3]

[4] Admur 605:1; Mordechai; Levush; Sefer Haminhagim ibid; omitted in Siddur; See Shaar Hakolel 42 that perhaps in the Siddur Admur holds the circling is not necessary at all

[5] Sefer Haminhagim p. 58; not mentioned in Siddur or Shulchan Aruch; See Shaar Hakolel 42:2 that learns from Admur in Siddur that it is only needed to be done one time.

[6] Siddur Admur; 605:1

[7] Sefer Haminhagim ibid; In 605:1 Admur states to do it three times; In Siddur Admur omits how many times it is to be done in. See Shaar Hakolel 42:2 that learns from Admur in Siddur that it is only needed to be done one time per statement.

[8] Kitzur SHU”A 131:1

[9] See Shaar Hakolel 42:2 

[10] Simple understanding of Admur 605:1; Siddur; See Kitzur SHU”A 131:1 “Each one is to take their own Kaparah in their right hand”; Mateh Efraim 605:6 “If one is doing the wave for someone else because they don’t know”; Makor Chaim 605; Kitzur Shelah; Siddur Yaavetz

Other opinions: Some Rishonim record that the Minhag is for the Rav of the town to hold the chicken and wave it around each person’s head. [See Likkutei Maharich]

[11] Kitzur SHU”A 131:1; Mateh Efraim 605:6

[12] See Nitei Gavriel 11:10

[13] See Nitei Gavriel 11 footnote 17

[14] Kitzur SHU”A ibid

[15] Likkutei Maharich

[16] Mateh Efraim 604:6

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