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The common custom of Sephardim is to do kaparot before Yom Kippur. This is despite the Shulchan Aruch discouraging the practice (O''C 605:1):

מה שנוהגים לעשות כפרה בערב יום כיפורים לשחוט תרנגול על כל בן זכר ולומר עליו פסוקים, יש למנוע המנהג

Those whose custom is to do kaparot on Erev Yom Kippur by slaughtering a chicken for every male son and say verses on it - should stop this custom.

This is opposed to the Rema, who approves of the Ashkenazic custom.

Why do Sephardim who rely on the Shulchan Aruch as the final halacha break from his words and do kaparot?

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4  
I guess they never accepted this ruling. He wrote it in response to something already happening, as is evident in his language, so it's not something that was adopted from Ashkenazim/followers of the RaM"A. –  Seth J Jul 30 '13 at 16:07

3 Answers 3

שו"ת יחווה דעת, חלק ב סימן עא discusses this and concludes that since it is commonly done there is no reason to suspend the Minhag.

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Why doesn't the SA saying that people should stop the minhag constitue a good reason to suspend it? –  Daniel Jul 30 '13 at 16:31

Hacham Ovadia Yosef has a Kelal called "Bimkom Minhag Kadum En Omrim Kibalnu Horaot Maran- in the place where there is a preexisting Minhag we don't follow Maran". In this case there was a preexisting Minhag to do Kaparot therefor we do Kaparot.

The reason Hacham Ovadia holds like this is because Maran writes in the Hakdama to Bet Yosef that he didn't come to remove previous Minhagim.

See the source in GershonGold's answer

Yalkut Yosef 605

א המנהג בכל תפוצות ישראל לעשות ''כפרות'' בערב יום הכפורים, דהיינו שנוהגים לשחוט תרנגול לכל אחד מבני הבית, ומנהג זה יסודתו בהררי קודש עוד מימות הגאונים. ויתכן דמה שכתב מרן בשלחן ערוך שלא לנהוג כן, לא דיבר באופן שנותן העוף לעניים. וגם הוא מנהג קדום שנהגו בו דלא כדעת מרן השלחן ערוך, וכבר כתב מרן עצמו בהקדמתו לבית יוסף, שלא בא לעקור מנהגים קדומים, ומנהג זה הוא מנהג קדמון כפי שהעידו האחרונים. [ילקו''י מועדים עמ' עה. יבי''א ח''ב ר''ס עא. הליכו''ע ח''ב עמ' רנה. וכ''ה בשלחן גבוה].

In short the reason we do it is because of the reason I said above plus the reason that after we are done with the Kaparot we give the chickens to poor people.

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"Maran writes in the Hakdama to Bet Yosef that he didn't come to remove previous Minhagim." Except that in this case he clearly did. –  Seth J Jul 30 '13 at 18:46
    
@SethJ even though he himself did we have the minhag kadum. –  Hacham Gabriel Jul 31 '13 at 6:14
    
@SethJ check out the edit. –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 6 '13 at 21:09
    
@HachamGabriel I still don't see how the two statements from R. Karo work together. If he doesn't want to remove previous minhagim, why would he write that kapparot should be stopped? Perhaps the Shulchan Aruch, as it came after Beit Yosef, modifies his approach on the subject. In any case, isn't it the Shulchan Aruch, not the Beit Yosef, that has has the ultimate authority of halacha for Sephardim? –  Aryeh Aug 7 '13 at 5:09

Rav Eli Mansour, in his Daily Halacha [sic], brings over that the Rashb"a, Shulhhan Arukh and Peri Hadash all come out against the custom of waving and slaughtering chickens to perform kaparot. He says that their pesaqim are al pi hapeshat.

He therefore brings over that the Arizal and the Ben Ish Hai, al pi haqabbalah, rule in favor of the use of chickens.

Rav Mansour says that, because we have a mahhloqet, one should not question someone who holds one way or the other.

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"[sic]"? :) ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ –  Double AA Sep 12 '13 at 22:30
    
So we're favoring acharonim over "one of the biggest of the Rishonim," the Rashba, because of kabbalalistic reasons? How does that make sense? Aren't we l'chumra when it comes to questionable practices of idolatry. –  Aryeh Sep 13 '13 at 6:30
    
Added clarification that Rav Mansour mentions one should not question someone who holds one way or the other because it's a mahhloqet. –  Lee Sep 13 '13 at 17:18

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