What is done with chicken after one finishes the Kaparos ceremony?

What is done with chicken after one finishes the Kaparos ceremony?

Semicha and Shechting:[1]After the ceremony one does Semicha[2] to the chicken [or other animal] and then gives it to a Shochet to be immediately slaughtered.[3] [Some[4] however learn from Admur in the Siddur that one is not required to do Semicha to the chicken or slaughter it immediately afterwards.[5] It is however brought that the Rebbe Rashab, would perform Semicha after he finished the Kaparos.[6] Practically, the widespread custom is not to do so.[7]]

Covering the blood of the chicken:[8] It is a Mitzvah for the Shochet to cover the blood of slaughtered fowl with earth or straw.[9] It is nevertheless permitted for the Shochet to honor the owner of the chicken to do so in his place.[10] Earth or straw is to be set up near the slaughtering area and the Shochet then drips some blood onto it.[11] Before covering the blood one says the blessing of “Al Kisoi Dam Beafar[12].”[13] After the Simanim of the chicken, and the knife, are checked and the chicken is verified as Kosher, one says the blessing and then covers the blood.[14] [If the Shochet does not check the knife beforehand, one is to cover the blood without a blessing, or leave it to the Shochet to check at the end of the Shechita, when he checks his knife.[15] In all cases, one should have in mind to not be Yotzei the blessing of another person saying it, or is to make an interval in between.[16]]

Throwing intestines to the birds:[17] The intestines, liver and kidneys of the chicken of Kaparos are to be thrown in an area that is accessible to birds, such as on one’s roof or in one’s courtyard, in order for the birds feed from it.[18]

Donating the chicken or its worth to the poor:[19] It is customary to donate the chicken to paupers. Nevertheless, it is better to redeem the chicken with money and give the money to the poor, as opposed to giving the actual chicken to the poor.[20] [This money is formally known as Pidyon Kaparos.]




Must one repeat Kaparos if the Shechita of the chicken was a Niveila [invalid]?[21]

Yes. If the Shechita was invalid one must redo the Kaparos.[22] If, however, it was a Kosher slaughtering, but the chicken was found to be a Treifa, it is nevertheless valid.

Should one perform Kaparos with chickens if the chickens will not be eaten by people but used as animal fodder?

It is still preferable to perform Kaparos with a chicken even in such a case.[23] Nonetheless, in the above scenario, it is best to give Pidyon Kaparos to the poor.[24] The chickens are to be slaughtered regularly with a blessing and a blessing is to be recited over the covering of the blood.[25]

Must one own the chicken that he performs Kaparos with, or is a borrowed chicken also valid?

Traditionally, the chickens used for the custom of Kaparos are to be owned by the individual and then slaughtered on his behalf.[26] Seemingly, a person does not fulfill the traditional custom by using a chicken that is not his, such as by borrowing someone’s chicken unless that person intends on giving them at least partial ownership over the chicken.[27] Nonetheless, there is room to learn that one can fulfill his obligation even with a borrowed chicken.[28] Practically, it is best for one to take it from the owner with intent to [at least partially] acquire it [or acquire it on condition to return] rather than simply to borrow it.

May a Kaparos organizer arrange for the chickens to be lent to the customers rather than sold to them?[29]

As stated above, the traditional custom of Kaparos entails the use of chickens that every individual owns and then has slaughtered on his behalf. Accordingly, it is not befitting for organizers to arrange for the chickens to be lent to the customers and rather it is to be given to them in a form of ownership. It goes without saying that if the arrangement is for the chickens to be lent, that this must be publicized to all the customers, who naturally assume that when they pay money they are buying the chicken. If the organizers did not inform the public about this, and initially arranged with the chicken farm that the chickens would only be lent to the customers and then returned to the chicken farm, then they are considered to have stolen from the public. Likewise, most seemingly no one has fulfilled their obligation of the custom of Kaparos.[30] Unfortunately, there are many organizers who do not pay attention to this crucial detail, either deliberately or do to a lack of knowledge, and it is hence imperative on the customers to be vigilant and question what will occur with the chickens after they are returned and who is in charge of the slaughtering. As all matters that relate to Jewish tradition, it is most proper for Kaparos organizers to have Rabbinical supervision over the process, in order to ensure that it is being done honestly, with integrity, and according to the demands of Halacha.

The custom of Beis Harav by Kaparos:

The Rebbe’s household would perform a sign of the four death penalties on the chicken used for Kaparos. To touch it with one’s foot slightly to fulfill the penalty of Sekila. To touch its neck to perform the penalty of Chenek. To scorch a small part of a feather to perform the penalty of Sereifa. The Shaar Hakolel[31] however negates all practices that were not recorded in the Siddur of Admur.



Tzar Baalei Chaim & Treifos by Kaparos: Not letting your chicken see the slaughter of another chicken



I met an individual who told me that he refuses to do Kaparos on chickens because he feels that the way it is done is cruel to the chickens, being that amongst other factors the slaughtering takes place in view of all the other chickens, and this causes unnecessary fear in the chickens. I answered him by asking him as to how he knows the chickens know what is going on and that they are scared by this. He said to me that he once heard that this is even written in Jewish law. Can you please clarify.



In general, it is correct that it often occurs with the chaos of Kaparos that unnecessary pain is caused to the chickens, and hence it is the absolute moral, ethical, and halachic obligation upon both the organizers and the people performing the ceremony of Kaparos to be careful to their utmost to diminish the amount of suffering and pain which is caused to the chickens, so it not be a mitzvah that comes as a result of an Aveira. Thus for example, the chickens should be kept in a shaded area away from the sun, he provided ample water and food, and not be thrown around [which can enter into questions of Treifos]. Likewise, the handlers of the chicken by the people performing the Kaparos should be with gentleness, without exerting too much force that can cause unnecessary pain to the chicken. And now to your main question:

Yes, it is indeed correct the Jewish law discourages the slaughtering of chickens in view of other chickens both due to reasons of Tzar Baalei Chaim and due to reasons of Treifos, as we will explain below. Accordingly, it is proper for the organizers to slaughter the chickens a slight distance away from the other chickens, and it is likewise proper for the people holding the chicken in line for slaughter to not hold the chicken in a way that it can view the slaughtering of the other chickens.

Nonetheless, all this is only Lechatchila, and Bedieved if this was not adhered to and the chickens witnessed the slaughter of the other chickens, it remains kosher, especially if it was slaughtered that day, and is having its lungs checked as is commonly done amongst Mihadrin Hashgachas.

To note, that for whatever reason, the widespread custom amongst all slaughterhouses that I have witnessed is even initially to slaughter the chickens in front of each other, having boxes of chickens lined up right next to the slaughter, who then slaughters the chicken in full view of all the other chickens. Seemingly, this is done due to that being stringent in this [and distancing the slaughtering of the chicken from the other chickens] would cause a delay between the slaughtering of each subsequent chicken, which in the end of the day would tremendously raise the price of chickens for the kosher consumer. Hence, they rely on the fact that the chickens are anyways being slaughtered within the next hour or so, and as well as due to the argument that today’s chickens are no longer frightened by this occurrence.


Explanation: The Talmud records that a shriveled [raisin like] lung of an animal or bird deems the animal a Treifa. One of the ways that the lung of an animal can become shriveled and raisin like is if it is frightened. It is brought in the Rishonim and ruled in the Shulchan Aruch that slaughtering another animal or bird in front of it causes this to happen, and hence if one slaughters another animal in front of the animal or bird and its entire lung, or it’s majority, cringed as a result, then it is deemed a Treifa, and is forbidden to be eaten.

Now, the Rashba rules that this worry is only applicable if there will be a delay between this witnessing of another animal being slaughtered and its own slaughtering. If, however, the animal will also be slaughtered right away, then there is not much of a worry and one is not required to check the lungs to verify that this shriveling did not take place.

Nonetheless, the Achronim conclude that it is improper even in this case to slaughter the animal in front of other animals who will be slaughtered right away, and hence they explicitly call out against the custom by Kaparos on erev Yom Kippur to slaughter the chicken in front of the other chickens, and state that doing so is a worry of Treifos due to the potential shriveling of the lung, and is also improper due to Tzaar Baalei Chaim. Nonetheless, Bedieved they agree that we do not have to require the lungs to be checked if this took place, and one may rely on the ruling of the Rashba. They explain that there is no difference between chickens or cows in this regard.

Based on all this, it is clear that by Kaparos one must try to shield the slaughtering of the other chickens from one’s chicken, and that one should try to diminish in their suffering as much as possible. And just as we have showed mercy to them may God show mercy to us.

Sources: See regarding a cringed raisin like lung which is caused by the animal experiencing fear: Michaber Y.D. 36:14; Chulin 54a-55b; Taz 36:20; Shach 36:29; Rashba Chulin 55b See regarding initially being careful not to slaughter the animal in front of other animals due to the above reason and due to Tzaar Baalei Chaim: Beis Efraim Y.D. 26; Yad Efraim on Shach; Pischei Teshuva Y.D. 36:16; Zivcheiy Tzedek 217; Ben Ish Chaiy Tazria 15; Kaf Hachaim 36:244; See regarding the custom today in the slaughterhouses to ignore this rule and slaughter the chickens in full view of the other chickens: Sichas Chulin 55b [Rav Yitzchak Rubin]



[1] Admur 605:1; Rama 605:1

[2] To lean on the chicken’s head, similar to what is done by a Karban brought to atone one’s sins. [Rama ibid]

Other opinions brought in Admur: There are those [Taz 605:3] who refrain from doing Semicha to the chicken in order so it not appear as if one is sanctifying Kodshim and slaughtering them outside of the Temple. There is no need however to suspect for this matter, being that it is common knowledge that a chicken is not a species fit for the altar. [Admur ibid; Levush]

[3] As immediately after the Semicha one is to perform the slaughtering. [Admur ibid]

[4] Shaar Hakolel 42:2

[5] As Admur omitted this from the Siddur. The reason for this is because it has no basis according to the Kabala of the Arizal. [Poskim ibid]

[6] Reshimos Hayoman p. 258

[7] Glosses of Rav Raskin on Siddur

[8] See Shulchan Aruch Yorah Deah Chapter 28

[9] Michaber Y.D. 28:1 and 8 “The one who slaughters is to cover”; Mishneh Chulin 83b; See Tur 28 and Michaber C.M. 382 regarding the law if someone stole his Mitzvah and covered the blood without his permission

[10] See Simla Chadash 28 and Mateh Asher ibid [Vetzaruch Iyun when doing this one after another why this does not transgress the adding of Brachos Sheinan Tzerichos, and that the previous person who heard the blessing was already Yotzei.]

[11] Michaber 28:5; Rebbe Zeira Chulin 83b

[12] And not Ba-afar. It is said with a Segol and not a Kamatz.

[13] Michaber 28:2; Rambam Shechita 14; Tur 28 in name of Rosh

[14] Michaber 28:19; Tur 28; Simla Chadasha 28:23

[15] See Michaber ibid;

[16] See Admur 213:4

[17] Admur 605:6; Rama 605:1; Tur; Tashbatz 126

[18] The reason: The reason for this custom is because it is proper to show mercy for creatures on this day in order to invoke Divine mercy upon us. [Admur ibid; Taz 605:4] 

[19] 605:4; Rama 605:1; Maharil

[20] The reason: This is done in order to prevent the paupers from facing the embarrassment of receiving the chickens which were taken for atonement. [ibid]

[21] Shaar Hakolel 42:2 [p. 97]

[22] The reason: As the main aspect of the Kaparos is the slaughtering. [ibid]

[23] As the giving the chicken to the poor is an additional Minhag that was added to Kaparos. The main minhag of Kaparos is to sweeten the Gevuros through a Kosher Shechita, irrelevant of what is done afterwards. Thus its ruled in Achronim that if the Shechita was Kosher but the bird was a Treifa it is still valid. See Shaar Hakolel 42:2

[24] See Admur 605:6

[25] See Michaber 18:18; Simla Chadasha 19:1; 28:22; Shulchan Gavoa 28:41

[26] So is the implication of all the sources in Poskim who discuss donating the chicken to charity, and what to do if you can’t afford to purchase a chicken, and no mention is made that it’s possible to simply borrow one. so also seemingly applies according to the opinion that the Kaparos ceremony is to be identical to a Karban, and the person thus must own it [Vetzaruch Iyun, however, from Erechin 21a and Rambam Maaseh Karbanos 14:9 if actual ownership is required by a Karban, or mere consent suffices]

[27] Reply of Rav Eli Landa; Reply of Rav Avishad;

[28] See Erechin 21a and Rambam Maaseh Karbanos 14:9 that one may have another person bring a Karban on one’s behalf, thus implying that it is not necessary to own the animal; In Kfar Chabad, the custom for many years was for the slaughterhouse to allow the residents to borrow chickens for Kaparos for free, and then return them to the slaughterhouse after the ceremony. [Heard from Rav Meir Ashkenazi]

[29] The answer below is based on a real case scenario that happened in which the organizers borrowed the chickens from the slaughterhouse and did not inform the paying customers that they are in essence only borrowing the chicken. The matter was brought up with a number of Rabbanim, and the main consensus was as stated below. See also Nitei Gavriel 10 footnote 18; Hamaor p. 15; Koveitz Beis Aaron Viyisrael p. 78; Shut Rabbanei Europe p. 326  

[30] Reply of Rav Eli Landa; Reply of Rav Avishad; As even by Karbanos, in which we find precedent to allow someone else to bring the animal on your behalf, it is only valid if the person had knowledge that he was not the owner of the animal and nonetheless agreed for it to be brought. However, in the case where it was brought on his behalf without his knowledge then it is invalid. Seemingly, the same applies here, that since the people were unaware that they’re only borrowing the chicken therefore the entire ceremony is invalid. Furthermore, in this situation the chicken is not being slaughtered on behalf of those who performed the ceremony, and thus loses the main aspect of the ceremony which is to slaughter a chicken on one’s behalf.

[31] P. 97

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