Day of Atonement: Kaparot

Kaparot is a controversial practice among some orthodox Jews whereby they sacrifice a chicken prior to the Day of Atonement. It is controversial in many quarters: among the animal rights activists, among the religiously non-observant, and among biblicists.

The animal rights activists are against this practice for a variety of reasons: the most obvious reason being that the chickens’ throats are being cut with a razor blade. However, they also protest this practice as being cruel because the chickens are reportedly kept in small boxes standing in the sun without food or water sometimes for up to a few days. Some also suggest that the way the chickens are secured by their wings being held back, can only cause pain and distress for the chickens.

The religiously non-observant see this practice as ghoulish and cruel, suggesting that placing sins on someone else is unfair or silly. Some simply protest it as nothing more than superstitious cruelty.

The biblicist finds this practice controversial because it sort of resembles the Day of Atonement ritual in that it captures the element of substitutionary atonement, but misses most of the details: The biblical practice of which this is a derivative is described in Leviticus 16 and includes a priest, sacred clothing, incense, a holy place, a bull, a ram and two goats; none of which are either available for or used in the kaparot ceremony.

WARNING: The video is VERY graphic!


  1. Pardon me but FYI Jesus was not crucified on the Day of Atonement for a very good reason.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Theodore.

    I’m not sure how your FYI is relevant to the post since there is no suggestion (or even hint) that Jesus was crucified on the Day of Atonement.

    In any case, others might be interested to know the “very good reason” that Jesus wasn’t crucified on the Day of Atonement. Care to share?

  3. Jesus was crucified at Passover because Passover has the rule of mandatory participation in order to become a beneficiary of Passover’s benefit, escape from death. But the other side of this rule is mandatory death for not participating.
    One other thing you need to understand is that there cannot be a direct benefit to anyone whenever any human male’s life is taken by bloodshed. God by his oath in Gen.9:5 NIV requires that an account be given directly to him relative to the fact of any male’s life taken by bloodshed. This residual requirement is also a mandatory component of Jesus crucifixion.
    The Day of Atonement ceremony is not relevant to Jesus’ crucifixion nor can any illustration derived from this ceremony ever be an adequate explanation of why Jesus was crucified.

  4. Theodore, it still feels like you are arguing against facts that are not in evidence. Nevertheless, thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

    In a brief reply, I would like to point out that Gen 9:5 only says half of what your suggest. Specifically: “there cannot be a direct benefit to anyone whenever any human male’s life is taken by bloodshed” is simply not found in Gen 9:5.

    Though I didn’t try to make a connection between the Day of Atonement ceremony and Jesus’ crucifixion, your suggestion that there is no relevance is short sighted. The Day of Atonement sacrifice gives a clear testimony to the concept of substitutionary atonement, which, at least to me, would make it somewhat relevant.

    On a positive note, your use of the word adequate in the final sentence was a good choice.

    Again, thanks for stopping by.

  5. Gen. 9:5 NIV is a, b, c. C is God’s set purpose for each man too is a mandatory individual accounting regarding the fact in place of at least one man’s life taken by bloodshed. Ref. Acts 2:23NIV.
    As to your assumption that there is a direct benefit by Jesus’ crucifixion see the parable of the Tenants (all three versions) regarding God’s reactive intent relative to his son’s killing. Is God’s intention a positive, i.e. benefit? Yes or No? Beware God does NOT respect persons.
    As to your assumption about the Day of Atonement’s relativity to Jesus’ crucifixion. Day of Atonement is inside the camp but, Jesus’ crucifixion is outside the camp. Further Day of Atonement is discredited because if it’s inherent factor of redundancy in Heb.
    You are making the very serious error of assuming that the Bible is progressively positive, but it is not. The Bible is empirical but it is empirically constructed as a rule-out of everyother belief system but one. Let me illustrate. John the Baptist and what he taught as a resolution for sins preceded Jesus and what he has perfected by his crucifixion for the remission of sin’s penalty, eternal death. Why does John precede Jesus? To prepare the Way is the obvious answer, but is there a progressive link? No just the opposite.
    Actually John’s teaching preceded Jesus’ crucifixion to rule that John’s system of faith is completely unrelated to the faith perfected by Jesus’ crucifixion. See Acts 18:24-26 and 19:1-5.
    Repenting of sins for the forgiveness of sins results in redundancy same as Day of Atonement and there are absolutely NO spiritual gifts associated to either system.

  6. Theodore,

    I previously posted a response to your last effort, but for some reason it’s not here. That being the case, for the record, I’ll offer this in its place as a final thought.

    You continue to argue against facts not in evidence. In other words, there was nothing in my post suggesting – overtly or subliminally – that Jesus was crucified on the Day of Atonement. That being the case, your initial comment – as I noted in my reply – wasn’t relevant.

    Honestly, I thought your initial comment was arrogant, but thought you deserved the benefit of the doubt since I don’t know you. However, you have continued to suggest I am assuming this or that, none of which this blog entry deals with.

    I think I appreciate your concern that I’m wrong about something(s), but I’m concerned that you failed to make very simple observations. Specifically:

    1) I never said that Jesus died on the Day of Atonement. Why would I since I don’t believe that?

    2) Genesis 9:5 says only half of what you suggest it does. It does NOT say “that there cannot be a direct benefit to anyone whenever any human male’s life is taken by bloodshed.” Yet, you persist in suggesting otherwise. By the way, cannot and anyone are important words in that sentence.

    As a side note, I would like to turn your attention to Colossians 1:20-22 to see that many have had a direct benefit from Jesus’ life being taken by bloodshed.

    3) You refuse to acknowledge that the concept of substitutionary atonement is present in the Day of Atonement sacrifice. Instead, you argue against a one-to-one parallel between the Day of Atonement sacrifice and Jesus’ crucifixion. Since I don’t believe in a one-to-one parallel, you are simply arguing with yourself.

    Theodore, your failure in these three points suggests that you are either 1) a troll, 2) an incompetent reader, or 3) riding a one trick pony.

    Finally, I think the introductory comments and video stand on their own as a documentary of how some Jews practice the controversial Kaparot ceremony in place of the Day of Atonement sacrifice in our day.

    That being the case, if you agree or disagree with the practice of Kaparot and want to express why, that’s fine. If you want to argue against all of the assumptions YOU ASSUME I have, then those comments will need to be made in another place.

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