It was a rather bizarre incident.  It seems that the Kapparos chicken had made a run for it and escaped.  Where did it go?  It went to the cage where the other chickens were being held.

And now began the Kapparos manager’s dilemma.  Should he inform his customers that one of the chickens was “used” already?  If he does so then the owner will lose significant money.  No one will use that batch of chickens anymore.  If he does not tell them — then he has caused them to stumble with a pre-used chicken.  What should the manager do?

This question was posed to Rav Elyashiv zt”l by his son-in-law Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein.  Rav Elyashiv ruled that, in fact, it is not a problem.  The reason is that the atonement of the Kapparos chicken occurs at the time of the Shechita and not earlier.  Rav Elyashiv explained that the taking of the chickens and swinging around the head is not the actual thing that performs the action of atonement in the Minhag of Kapparos.  Hence, if the chicken “escaped” and joined up with the other chickens — it is not a problem to do it once again.

The custom of Kapparos itself, has been a debate between those who follow the Ramah and those who follow the Beis Yoseph as to whether the custom is entirely of Jewish origin or not.  Rav Elyashiv’s point about the symmetry between atonement achieved with standard Korbanos and the custom of Kapparos is in accordance with the explanations given to justify the position of the Ramah.


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