Shortly before Yom Kippur, it is important to do Pidyon Kapparot. The Ceremony starts with reading selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24; then a rooster (for a male) or a hen (for a female), or a fish, or money, is held above the person’s head and swung or waved in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” [if using money then substitute “This money shall go to charity, and I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” This is based on the statement in the Torah that people who lived too far from Jerusalem to bring their tithes in animals or produce could “turn it into money” and bring that instead. (Deut. 14:24-26) ]The fowl, which is then donated to the poor for food, will expiate any misfortune that might otherwise occur to the one who has taken part in the ritual, in punishment for his or her sins. It goes without saying that one must do Teshuvah for this to work! The Chofetz Chaim explains beautifully that a person cannot obtain purity from sin, and thus obtain higher levels of perfection, without repenting. Through God’s mercy, we are given the Divine gift of repentance, so that we might abandon our corrupt ways, thereby being spared from the death that we deserve for our violation of the Divine law. By substituting the death of a fowl, one will (hopefully) be reminded of our mortality and appreciate God’s mercy in not killing us for our sins, and thereby be stirred to repentance. By no means, however, does the ritual and the slaughter of the bird eradicate one’s misdeeds.
According to the Ariza”l we do Kappparot with a chicken. 1 chicken for each person.
Male chicken for a man and a female chicken for a woman. Pregnant woman 3 chickens [1 for her 2 for safek if the child is male or female]
The slaughtering of the chicken should be done Erev Yom Kippur after midnight after selichot.
There are kavvanot that sweeten the judgments of the person. Some people give money to tzedakah and have one male chicken and one female chicken for the whole congregation. This provides atonement for your sins of the past year.
The kapparot is instead of the Seir Haazazel which provides atonement for the entire nation. Today we do not have the power to do something for the entire Klal Yisrael so therefore we do the kapparot which is atonement for individuals
At King David Kabbalah we will be doing Kapparot according to the Meditations of the Arizal and in the was that the Arizal did it. Please sign your name and we will do it for you too.
Because of all the technical difficulties of actually performing the Kapparot yourself, there are many people who do Pidyon Kapparot, which means that a person gives the value of how much the Kapparot would cost to charity and then they do a prayer that comes instead of Kapparot and are included within the prayers of Yom Kippur.