Machzor Yom Kippur Ashkenaz Linear
Kaporos כפרות

The traditional ritual of “kaporos,” atonement, is mentioned in the writings of the Ari Z'al and the Sh'lah haKodosh. It is the custom on the morning of the eve of the Day of Atonement (or even a day before) to ritually slaughter a chicken as a symbol of atonement. It is customary for a male to use a rooster and a female to use a hen. According to some, the slaughtered chickens are given to the poor, but others hold that it is more appropriate to give them the value of the chickens rather than the actual chickens. If there is no possibility of observing the ritual of kaporos with live chickens, you may use money instead and present the money to the poor.

The following verses which introduce the ritual itself are taken from Psalms 107:10, 14, 17-21, and the last two verses are from Job 33:23,24. These verses portray the misery and affliction which man creates for himself through his disobedience to God. Though his path of sin leads to self-destruction, God stands ready to save him and heal him if he but cries out in true repentance.

בְּנֵי אָדָם,

Children of men!

יֽשְׁבֵי חֽשֶׁךְ

Those who sit in darkness

וְצַלְמָוֶת,

and in the shadow of death

אֲסִירֵי עֳנִי וּבַרְזֶל:

bound in affliction and [chains of] iron.

יוֹצִיאֵם מֵחֽשֶׁךְ

He brought them out from darkness,

וְצַלְמָוֶת,

from the shadow of death,

וּמוֹסְרוֹתֵיהֶם יְנַתֵּק:

and their shackles, He broke.

אֱוִילִים

They are fools—

מִדֶּֽרֶךְ פִּשְׁעָם,

because of their transgression

וּמֵעֲו‍ֹנֹתֵיהֶם

and their iniquities—

יִתְעַנּוּ:

they cause their own affliction.

כָּל־אֹֽכֶל תְּתַעֵב נַפְשָׁם,

All manner of food is abhorred by their soul,

וַיַּגִּֽיעוּ עַד־שַֽׁעֲרֵי־מָוֶת:

and they draw near until the gates of death.

וַיִּזְעֲקוּ אֶל־יְהֹוָה

[Then] they cried out to Adonoy

בַּצַּר לָהֶם,

in their distress;

מִמְּצוּקוֹתֵיהֶם יוֹשִׁיעֵם:

from their anguish, He delivered them.

יִשְׁלַח דְּבָרוֹ וְיִרְפָּאֵם,

He sends His word and heals them,

וִימַלֵּט מִשְׁחִיתוֹתָם:

and delivers them from destruction.

יוֹדוּ לַיהֹוָה חַסְדּוֹ,

Let them thank Adonoy for His kindness,

וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו לִבְנֵי אָדָם:

and for His wonders to the children of man.

אִם־יֵשׁ עָלָיו מַלְאָךְ

If there be for him an angel,

מֵלִיץ אֶחָד מִנִּי־אָֽלֶף,

one interceding angel among a thousand,

לְהַגִּיד לְאָדָם יָשְׁרוֹ:

to vouch for man's uprightness;

וַיְחֻנֶּֽנּוּ, וַיֹּֽאמֶר,

then [God] is gracious unto him, and says:

פְּדָעֵֽהוּ מֵרֶֽדֶת שַֽׁחַת,

“Redeem him from going down to the pit,

מָצָאתִי כֹֽפֶר:

I have found a ransom [for him.]”


A man should make the following declaration: (Each time you say, “This is my” revolve the rooster around your head)

זֶה חֲלִיפָתִי,

This is my exchange,

זֶה תְּמוּרָתִי,

this is my substitute,

זֶה כַּפָּרָתִי,

this is my atonement.

זֶה הַתַּרְנְגוֹל יֵלֵךְ לְמִיתָה,

This rooster shall go to its death,

וַאֲנִי אֶכָּנֵס וְאֵלֵךְ

and I shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.


The entire sequence, beginning with “children of men” is repeated three times.


A woman makes the following declaration, following the procedure described above:

זֹאת חֲלִיפָתִי,

This is my exchange,

זֹאת תְּמוּרָתִי,

this is my substitute,

זֹאת כַּפָּרָתִי,

this is my atonement.

זֹאת הַתַּרְנְגֽוֹלֶת תֵּלֵךְ לְמִיתָה,

This hen shall go to its death,

וַאֲנִי אֵלֵךְ וְאֶכָּנֵס

and I shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.


Repeat the entire sequence beginning “Children of men,” three times.


One who performs this ritual on behalf of a male makes the following declaration: (each time you say, “this is your,” revolve the rooster around the head)

זֶה חֲלִיפָתְךָ,

This is your exchange,

זֶה תְּמוּרָתְךָ,

this is your substitute,

זֶה כַּפָּרָתְךָ,

this is your atonement.

זֶה הַתַּרְנְגוֹל יֵלֵךְ לְמִיתָה,

This rooster shall go to it death,

וְאַתָּה תִּכָּנֵס וְתֵלֵךְ

and you shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.


Repeat the entire sequence beginning “Children of men,” three times.


One who performs the ritual on behalf of a female makes the following declaration, following the procedure described above.

זֹאת חֲלִיפָתֵךְ,

This is your exchange,

זֹאת תְּמוּרָתֵךְ,

this is your substitute

זֹאת כַּפָּרָתֵךְ,

this is your atonement.

זֹאת הַתַּרְנְגֽוֹלֶת תֵּלֵךְ לְמִיתָה,

This hen shall go to its death

וְאַתְּ תִּכָּנְסִי וְתֵלְכִי

and you shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.


A pregnant woman makes the following declaration: (Each time you say “These are our,” revolve the chickens around your head)

אֵֽלּוּ חֲלִיפוֹתֵֽינוּ,

These are our exchanges,

אֵֽלּוּ תְּמוּרוֹתֵֽינוּ,

these are our substitutes,

אֵֽלּוּ כַּפָּרוֹתֵֽינוּ,

these are our atonements.

אֵֽלּוּ הַתַּרְנְגוֹלִים יֵלְכוּ לְמִיתָה

These chickens shall go to their death

וַאֲנַֽחְנוּ נִכָּנֵס וְנֵלֵךְ

and we shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.