(JTA) — A leading Israeli rabbi has come out against using a live animal for the kapparot ceremony.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Beit El and the head of the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, issued a religious ruling suggesting that it was better to give money to the poor rather than wave a live chicken over one’s head and transfer one’s sins to the animal in order to achieve atonement for sins in advance of Yom Kippur.
The ruling came at the request of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, Haaretz reported. The society campaigns annually before the High Holidays against the ritual slaughter of chickens.
"Because this is not a binding obligation but a custom, in light of problems related to kashrut and the suffering of animals, and given the edicts of the aforementioned rabbis, a recommendation must be made to favor performing kapparot through money, by performing the great mitzvah of providing for the needy," Aviner wrote.