Sunday, September 27, 2009

Of swinging chickens and Crocs

Here are two stories on Yom Kippur. The first one is about the ritual of swinging chickens over one's head (tip from Olga Gershenson):

Hecht holds the bird, waves it three times above his head, and says the prayer of Kapparot (or Kapparos, depending on heritage). He prays that his sins will be transferred to the bird and he will escape the divine punishment that he deserves. The prayer is more than 1,000 years old, and countless Orthodox Jews will recite it in the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which begins at sundown Sunday. Hecht says waving the chicken isn't the point of this ritual.

"The main part of the service," he says, "is handing the chicken to the slaughterer and watching the chicken being slaughtered. Because that is where you have an emotional moment, where you say, 'Oops, you know what? That could have been me.' "

Well...the alternative addresses the cruelty to animals and focuses on the meaning behind the ritual instead of the ritual itself:

"No, we want people to use money," Rosenfeld says, explaining that waving money around her head is just as religiously acceptable as waving a bird. "We think it's very cruel to the chickens. We're trying to get people to not buy the chickens at all but use money instead."

She nods and says she'll use money this year.

It's not easy undoing a millennium of tradition, one chicken at a time. And it's lonely. Rosenfeld knows he's at odds with his friends at synagogue.

Interestingly, Muslims (are?) will be facing the same issue with the ritual of goat/cow/camel sacrifice as part of Eid al-Adha - and the proponents and opponents will most likely have the same script: Modify tradition to accommodate a humane treatment of animals + avoiding unnecessary killing of animals vs the preservation of an old tradition. In any case, listen to the full story here.

The second story has to do with an excellent ruling discouraging wearing Crocs on Yom Kippur. Someone is finally standing up to this fashion atrocity. Here is the story (tip from Laura Sizer):

Rabbi Elyashiv of the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodoxy has ruled that it is best not to wear Crocs shoes on Yom Kippur even though they are not made out of leather and, therefore, would seemingly be permissible for the holiday. His reasoning behind the ruling is that they are too comfortable, and thus don't provide the level of suffering one should feel on the holiday.

Leather is traditionally not worn on Yom Kippur as a symbol of humility and increased humanity
on the atonement holiday.

The halachic ruling came in response to a question posed to the rabbi by a young yeshiva student asking whether it is permissible to wear on Yom Kippur shoes one would normally wear throughout the year. In response, the rabbi ruled it is best to avoid wearing Crocs on the holiday. "It is permissible legalistically, but it is inadvisable," said Rabbi Elyashiv.

Read the full Croc story here.


Matthew said...

Maybe they could wave their Crocs over their heads and sacrifice them? I'm pretty sure they're already pretty evil. (They're certainly painful to look at.)

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