by Lior Rozenman
Why is this religious Jew cutting a chicken's throat? Kaparot is an ancient ritual of atonement for Yom Kippur. Though it can be held anytime between the ten days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it most commonly is done at the outset of Yom Kippur, the last of the ten Days of Awe period of the high holidays in the Jewish religious tradition.
The ritual itself is simple enough: a chicken is waved over one’s head three times while the slaughterer recites a specific prayer. The chicken is slaughtered in accordance with halachic religious procedure, after which the monetary worth of the chicken is donated to the poor; today the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause.
While kaparot is an essential tradition for religious Jews in sanctifying themselves and atoning for the High Holidays, the relevance of the custom has been questioned in this day and age as far as the humanity of the treatment of the animal is concerned.
Nonetheless, the symbolism significance of the act is irreplaceable. Kaparot represents the moment when those who are destined to be the recipient of harsh decrees for the New Year may transfer the merits of these harsh decrees to the chicken as a mitzvah of charity that will absolve them.
Read the full article at News from Jerusalem