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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

This (fish) is my atonement

Today I gutted a fish.
It was whitefish, nearly three pounds and about a foot and a half long.
I didn't catch it myself, I bought it at the grocery store, so you can trust me on the weight.
I have not gutted a fish myself in many years and certainly not one as large as that.
As I sliced into the fish's belly the (no longer) vital organs began to slip out immediately and when I looked down my hands were covered in fish blood- a pretty awful sight really.
As I switched to a serrated blade to get through the tougher part of the fish I thought- well, better him than me... and then it made me start thinking about Kapparot (or kapporos which ever you prefer.)


"Kapparot (Hebrew, atonement) a term used in the folk custom of Judaism; it means the practice of attaining atonement before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, so that a more severe judgment will not be reached on that day. On the day before Yom Kippur a live fowl is taken (a cock for the man and a hen for the woman) and is swung by the neck around the person who says: "This is my atonement, this is in exchange for me, this is my substitute." The fowl is then slaughtered and it, or its value, is then given to the poor, while its disembowlled interior is given to birds [Is this true? Some howo I think that chickens might not actually appreciate a chicken dinner- Shifra] as a further act of charity. Rabbis opposed the custom, but recognizing the power of folk religion, they suggested that at least a monetary substitution for the fowl of eighteen coins be made, and in that form the custom is still present. "

...zeh ha' dag she holech l'seudat Rosh Hashana- V'ani ekanes l'chaim tovim, aruchim, aruchim , u'lshalom.
Translation - This is the fish that goes (to become) my New Year's meal- and I will enter into a good, long, and peaceful life.

A sweet New Year to all of you.
May all your fish arrive to your homes cleanly filleted.


At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since this is 'the ask shifa blog'
Can i ask for some advice?
My son want to use money for kapporos.
Now, my family uses the chickens, as far back as my poor memory serves me.
Of course in reality, I agree, I wanna be a vegetarian especially after kapporos.
But who am I to change a family minhag (I know, different blog subject)after who knows how many years.
So what do I say and how? lots o' squeamish details please!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shifra - The big thing in Israel every year is the Israeli Society for protection of animals going all out against religious Jews who do kapparot with chickens/roosters/fish.

They say the only way to do kapparot is with money.

Never a dull moment here.

Shana Tova!

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Too funny Jameel!

As for you Chuck, I've been thinking about your question.
I don't know how to make a kid feel better about using a live chicken for kapporos, especially since you yourself feel pretty disturbed by it. It's got to be pretty upsetting to see.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Chuck: Ask your LOR -- it shouldn't be a problem to give tzedaka instead of using a chicken. You can probably even add in your minhag change as part of hatarat nedarim.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Nice post.

The plural of "arĂ´ch" is "arukkim", not "aruchim".

I'm always glad to be helpful.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Thanks Mar.
My Hebrew grammar leaves much to be desired.

At 6:17 PM, Blogger chuck said...

thanx Jameel
but i really wanna keep the (squirm) chicken menhag

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I subconciously transmitted this thread to Amshi. Here's his latest blog:


At 10:20 PM, Blogger Editor said...

nice blog.
don't know why i never stumbled on it before!

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Shifra said...


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