Tzar Balei Chayim & Kaporos



The way Kaporos is done these days it looks like there’s a lot of tzar balei chaim going on. Therefore I ask, why are we so makpid to do it with chicken if at the same time we are we are being oiver issurim? Wouldn’t it be better to do it with money? Or how can we be careful to not do any tzar balei chaim during Kaporos?

Even if we figure out how to do it right, there’s still so much tzar balei chaim that goes on even before it comes to are hands. They don’t feed them and they smash them into these crates for days and they throw them around.

Therefore I turn the the Rov to ask for advice.



Firstly, the practice of Kaparos is a standing minhag for many generations and one may not just abolish minhagim due to the “change of the times”. Otherwise we could dangerously do away with many of our customs chas veshalom.

Of course, it is proper and praiseworthy to be as humane as possible. At the same time, it is important to mention that although tzaar balei chayim (animal cruelty) is forbidden, however when there is a תועלת the rule of tzar balei chayim is overruled.

Additionally, the purpose of Kaparos is not to be “nice to the chicken”; the reason for the the shchita is that “a person should reflect that all this really should be done to him”.

We also find in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:1 that since the chicken ate from ‘gezel -theft’, a person partaking in kaparos appreciates that he should “distance himself from gezel“.

Indeed after shechting the kaparos they should be given to the poor to eat, thus the meat should not go to waste.



Shulchan Aruch Admur Hazaken Orach Chayim 605:1,3.

Shulchan Aruch Admur Hazaken Hilchos Ovrei Drachim V’tzar Balei Chayim 4-6.



Your point is understood, however it is impractical to impose upon thousands of people who perform Kaparos in Crown Heights to spend much more money in order that the chicken will be treated better.

The chickens are treated well enough that they do not become treif before the shchita process, (i.e. not being thrown around, and careful care throughout the transporting process). As mentioned, since in this case there is tremendous fiscal benefit to the community there is no prohibition according to the laws of tzar balei chayim. If one wants to travel to a free-range chicken farm and arrange Kapparos to be done there, they may do so.

PS. When we would cram and squeeze at the Rebbe’s farbrengens or at tekios, we went through a lot of tzar baalei chayim too, much more than anything the chickens go through. At the same time, we appreciated the experience and would endure any pain to go through this experience. Perhaps these chickens too appreciate being part of this special mitzvah.