The Rotating Chicken question

Recently, Anny Matar and others wrote about the Rotating Chicken on the Cz-L list.

Here’s a snippit of what Anny wrote:  […]I dreaded Yom Kippur becausemy Zazia, as we called grandfather, turned the chickens over our heads andwe had to say:”Mir zum Leben dir zum Tod” (me to life and you to death) and that was a terrible thing, never to be forgotten. Then the Shohat came, by then I was as far and as fast as my feet could carry me when I only saw that man……)!!!

Now my question is: from what did this originate; and what is the meaning; and why a chicken? Enquiring minds want to know!



3 thoughts on “The Rotating Chicken question

  1. Hardy

    Must be related to the biblical scapegoat.As goats were not handy and expensivechicken had to do.Easy done : put all your sins on the chickenand go frank and free.Continue sinning until next chicken.Hardy

  2. Miriam

    This is the tradition of the “Kapparot ceremony”.Excerpt from Wikipedia: Kapparos or Kaparot (כפרות, “atonements”) is a traditional Jewish religious ritual that takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur. Classically, it is performed by grasping a live chicken by the shoulder blades and moving around one’s head three times, symbolically transferring one’s sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor, preferably eaten at the pre-Yom Kippur feast. Preferably, a man should use a rooster, and a woman should use a hen for the ritual.In modern times, Kapparos is performed in the traditional form mostly in Haredi communities. Members of other communities perform it with charity money substituted for the chicken, swung over one’s head in similar fashion. There is an ancient and little known tradition of Egyptian Jewry to use plant life. Other Orthodox Jews simply prefer to not participate in the custom.Take this opportunity to wish all the list members Shanah Tova

  3. Jerry Y.W. Eshet

    Most of the nowadays Jewish rituals, prayers, etc. are based on the rituals performed at the time when the Temple (Beyt Hamikdash) existed. For instance the daily payer of “Minkha” is named after a a sacrificing ritual by the same name. Those rituals consisted mainly of the sacrifice of animals. There were various kind of sacrifices each for a symbolic purpose. One of them was named “Khatat” (sin) – it’s purpose was to get absolution for the sins one performed. With the years this sacrifice was transfered to the Yom Kipur ritual with the chicken.


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