‘This Chicken is Gonna Die’: Kaparos Ritual Filmed in NYC

Leghorn_SaundersOur more sensitive readers may want to sit this one out.

Here’s footage of Kaparos, a controversial ritual performed by some Hasidic Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur. Kaparos is performed by swinging a chicken over the head of a participant three times and then ritually slaughtering the bird. The meat is then supposed to be donated to the poor to eat in a pre-fast meal. By doing so, the sins of the person under the chicken is supposedly transferred to the unfortunate hen.

What do you think, Disinfo readers? Can you really call this any more barbaric or cruel than industrial farming? If not, then is the rite any “weirder” than any other religious practice?

Via Animal New York.

25 Comments on "‘This Chicken is Gonna Die’: Kaparos Ritual Filmed in NYC"

  1. Calypso_1 | Sep 16, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

    No haruspicy?! Amateurs.

  2. Charlie Primero | Sep 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm |

    What manner of God is pleased by blood spilling sacrifices?

    • The God of meat eaters?

      • Charlie Primero | Sep 17, 2013 at 4:47 am |

        I don’t think so. I know many people who eat meat yet worship no god. Every life form on this planet must consume resources to survive. Only depraved and demented entities derive pleasure from the spilling of blood.

  3. Simiantongue | Sep 17, 2013 at 2:43 am |

    One of the more pernicious superstitions. In ancient tribes elders would cast the sins of the village onto a goat and drive the animal into the desert. Hence the word “scapegoat”.

    Christianity is based on this premise, where jesus essentially plays the role of the goat or chicken. Vicarious redemption, a ‘vessel’ that takes all those shitty things you’ve done and releases you from accountability.

    I can see the allure, why that superstition splintered off to become it’s own very popular religion. There have always been a lot of lousy people in the world who love nothing better than to NOT take responsibility for the things they’ve done.

    No matter how crappy you’ve been you can dump it all on someone or something else. Where is the morality in that?

    Take my word for it. If you’ve “sinned”, done something wrong, stolen, lied, cheated etc. Even if it was something you did to yourself. Go and try to make it right. That’s what makes a difference. Not swinging chickens around your head, saying “jesus takes my sins” or driving goats into the desert. These things do nothing to make the world a better place.

    • Rene Girard has an interesting contradictory take: ‘By focusing attention on the victim, the Bible undermines the psychological power of the scapegoat mechanism. “Once understood, the mechanisms can no longer operate; we believe less and less in the culpability of the victims they demand.” He says, the common Christian understanding of the cross as a vicarious atonement is a reversion of Christianity to sacrificial thinking. Such a lapse falls away from the good news of the New Testament and turns Christianity into just another scapegoat myth that justifies holy violence in defence of faith.
      If he is right, then Christian symbology is more than just another religious system; it is the key to exposing the violence inherent within any and all world mythologies and hence has the potential to end the cycle of retribution that animates world history. After Christ’s death on the cross, mankind can no longer kid itself that power over others is divinely justified, and this makes all the excuses for murder, oppression, and unjust social hierarchies obsolete.’

      • Cortacespedes | Sep 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

        Then along came Nietzsche…

      • Simiantongue | Sep 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

        Is that what we see in Christianity? Do Christians understand that it’s wrong to scapegoat? Girard says It undermines the scapegoat mechanism, but one only has to look at contemporary Christianity to see clearly that is not true. It reinforces it. We know how Christians see vicarious redemption in the christ.

        The practice actually splintered and changed somewhat from animal sacrifice to confession in Roman Catholicism. It’s the same superstitious premise, though instead of swinging a chicken about your head you confess your sins. Granted this is better for sacrificial animals, but it still accomplishes little to nothing except making those who do “bad” things feel better about themselves.

        For example if Bob and Jane spread nasty untrue rumors about their neighbor, they may scapegoat by swinging a chicken around their head, or they may go to confession on Sunday and are told to say ten hail Mary’s.

        Bob and Jane are given the impression that because they followed through with those superstitious behaviors, as they’ve seen other do, that means they’re okay with god. Hence are upstanding members of their community. Although the truth is they’ve done something reprehensible. Rather than try and rectify that wrong and take responsibility for what they did to their neighbor, they’re swinging chickens around their head.

        Girard has the memetic part of the superstition down, people are willing to mimic this behavior, but he’s naive about human psychology. It reinforces scapegoating not undermines it.

        Bob and Jane are going to dance around with a chicken or go to confession because this fulfills their need for absolution, it doesn’t really do anything to improve the state of the world. If they were to “come clean” then others in their social grouping would realize they are not truthful and this will cost Bob and Jane in social equity. That is the purpose of scapegoating, to fulfill an inner need to see oneself as “good” while avoiding any cost to ones social status.

        Rather than right a wrong these types of superstitions compound the problem. This is anecdotal, but I’ve interviewed I don’t know how many clients in prison that are absolutely certain that they’re forgiven for the heinous things they’ve done because they accept jesus as their savior. They’re very sincere and they sleep quite well. I’ve interviewed their victims too. As you can imagine they have a somewhat different perspective. Is it moral to tell a person who is guilty of doing wrong to another that they are forgiven. In my opinion only the victim can do that. But religious superstition brings in some ritual that can supposedly forgive also.

        This is not morality. This is an attempt to intercede authoritarian structures in every day happenstance. This gives supposed moral authority to whatever institution would claim it.

        To spell it out
        “Only jesus can save you. And we happen to be his front men on earth. So, victims, if you want justice. And you, offenders, if you want redemption. You must seek it here”. Interceding and depriving victims of the only right which they have, the right to forgive another or not. Who needs the absolution of those you’ve done wrong to when you’re right with god? How convenient it is that the offender must also seek absolution through the church. Perhaps their time in purgatory can be reduced with the donation of a few coins eh?

        Girard says that vicarious redemption as seen in the bible “from the victims perspective” undermines the premise of scapegoating. There are maybe a handful of theologians or philosophers who ‘could’ interpret the bible that way. But when you look at contemporary Christianity you understand that is not how it’s understood. Girard’s “take” sort of crumbles when a dose of pragmatism is applied to it.

        Vicarious redemption is too important to authoritarian structures as a chain on the minds of people. They’re not going to give it up, scapegoating is NOT being undermined by the bible in contemporary Christianity. It’s one of the core precepts in the religion and it’s certainly not seen as a revelation that allows people to see scapegoating as immoral. Quite the contrary in fact, the bible has enabled the scapegoating meme to survive and flourish.

        Unlike Girard I’ve sat in a room with cold blooded murderers and looked them in the eye when they explain to me that they’ve accepted jesus as their savior. It’s a philosophy that’s very popular in prison not surprisingly. Thinking back, how ridiculous Girard’s musings seem at that moment. I can imagine if I were to explain to these people “You know that vicarious redemption through jesus in the bible actually undermines belief in scapegoating”. Ha!

        Just as an aside, what I’m talking about here is Christian theology not Christians themselves. I’m not arguing Christians are immoral, don’t get that impression. Most people are decent… well they’re okay anyway. But the philosophy of vicarious redemption does far more harm and little good. Christians most of all fall victim to that. By believing that their sins can be forgiven by ecclesiastical authority they’ve little incentive to rectify the ‘bad’ things they may have done in the world thus decreasing overall health and happiness and all that stuff.

        I say “forgiven by ecclesiastical authority” because, lets be honest, these front men are the ones people do business with on behalf of their god/s. They take forgiveness from victims and dispense it as they see fit, inevitably at times when it benefits them. This is not their right. And not the place of any person to do but those who have been wronged.

    • I think I ready somewhere that the whole “Jesus died for your sins” thing was invented by the Roman architects of Christianity to stop all the animal sacrifices. So maybe it made the world briefly better for some chickens and goats.

      • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Sep 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

        The Romans were indeed well known for their animal welfare traditions. The petting zoo at the Colosseum was a crowning achievement of their civilization.

      • Naw. At its inception, Christianity was past the ritual sacrifice thing. They developed out of the Jewish Essene cult that had been pushed out of the Jerusalem Temple and into the wilderness generations earlier. The sacrifice of the apotheosized Jesus as a permanent replacement for the Temple sacrifices cognitively freed this cult from their dependence on the Jerusalem hierarchy, and thus the need for any future sacrifices.

  4. Tchoutoye | Sep 17, 2013 at 5:25 am |

    It’s a small step from believing your sins can be transferred onto unfortunate hens by killing them to attempting to transfer your sins onto unfortunate Palestinians by use of disproportionate force.

  5. Ted Heistman | Sep 17, 2013 at 6:09 am |

    Well, the way magic works is that it appeals to Our unconscious. Our unconscious is kind of a idiot. So things like this impress it. Funny hats, incantations, incense etc. All designed to impress our unconscious.

    Our unconscious is dumb bit it controls a lot of things, like our health well being etc. So its worth doing stupid shit like this. You don’t have to kill a chicken though, but this type of thing probably works for these people.

  6. jasonpaulhayes | Sep 17, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    If you eat meat and you’re not willing to kill an animal… you’re a subhuman.

  7. Cortacespedes | Sep 17, 2013 at 10:18 am |

    Some time ago, I was deeply involved in the art of animal sacrifice (mostly cows and a few lambs). As a young “acolyte” I was chosen to be the one responsible for delivering various entrails to a mysterious, yet somehow powerful man, who would then read the offal, and if pleased with his findings, burn his mark into them. We could kill no animal without him being present. Curious to find out the source of his “eminence” I decided to decipher the sacred mark as written upon a recently “sanctified” tongue.

    If I remember correctly, the letters inscribed were, U.S.D.A. INSP’D & P’S’D.

    Make of that what you will.

  8. This is a very stupid report. Poor and tasteless. Just a bunch of noise.

  9. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Sep 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

    I have a real problem with ritual slaughter. I don’t have any issues with killing animals, mind you, but so much of this kabuki is stressful on the animal. Once they start hemorrhaging blood, it’s pretty much lights out and they don’t feel anything. Say a quick word and get it done with. My prayer, “I’m sorry. Thank you.”

  10. I’ve killed a few roosters this lifetime (letting eggs hatch to get more hens)… I appreciate thee throat cutting part. I still (and am currently) wear thee blade I would kill em with… but it is a rather utilitarian blade… (I also pry headset cups/races out of head tubes with it, when thee Campy tool doesn’t work)…
    I tended to hang em by their legs for about 10 minutes… they tended to calm down as thee blood pooled in their heads… I’d look em in thee eyes, and ask em to take a message to Eris… then slice open some neck skin, and cut thee jugular… draining into a bowl of cooked grains…
    My real problem with what they are doing, is in thee tossing of thee bird imeadiately afterwards, in what appears to be a pretty disrespectful manner… into thee sacks to bleed out… maybe there is some reason for this (sanitation??)… but it seems to be well before I’d expect thee bird to be dead from thee throat slice….
    Yeah, that seems pretty whack to me… not as bad as industrial farming by a LONG SHOT… but still sad.

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